“Fast Jack” Beckman will test Whit Bazemore’s Matco Tools Dodge Charger Funny Car this week, giving new life to rumors that Bazemore may not be a part of the Don Shumacher Racing lineup in 2007.
Bazemore’s status with the team has been in doubt for some time, after performing considerably below the level set by his teammates, Gary Scelzi and Ron Capps. Scelzi won the Powerade World Championship a year ago, and Capps led the points for most of this season until being displaced by John Force last weekend in Memphis. Bazemore’s major 2006 headlines came not on the racetrack, but from a midseason confrontation with Capps that left him with a split lip and a relationship with his Schumacher teammate that is described – at best— as civil.
Late-season driver testing is not unprecedented in the Schumacher camp. Scelzi himself was invited to test Scotty Cannon’s DSR Funny Car at about this point a few years ago, and look how that worked out for Cannon.
For his part, Schumacher tap-danced magnificently when ESPN2’s Dave Reiff asked about Bazemore’s job security and contract status for 2007, saying only that,”Whit Bazemore will be a great character in this sport for a long time to come.” Bazemore, meanwhile, admitted on The Deuce that he has spoken to other teams about a job for next year.
Seems like we’ve been down this road before, and if it were me, I might not be stocking up on Whit Bazemore Matco Tools t-shirts in the next few weeks.