PUTNAM, Conn. -- September 12, 2000 - Team owner Chuck Etchells today confirmed published reports that driver Whit Bazemore would not be returning to the Kendall Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Z28 Racing Team for the 2001 season. Etchells explained that it was a mutual decision between himself and Bazemore to independently pursue future opportunities. Etchells did note that the Indianapolis resident would remain with the Etchells team through the end of this season.
"At the end of the day, racing is a business, and this simply came down to a business decision," stated Etchells. "Whit had to do what was best for him, and I had to look out for the best interests of Etchells Racing. In a way, this is similar to our situation at the end of the 1998 season. Although it was difficult for me to get out the car, I knew Whit would be bringing in funding that would help further our team. Whit is someone I have always gotten along with, and I'm happy we had a chance to work together. I want to thank him for his contribution to Etchells Racing and wish him well in his future endeavors."
In his nearly two seasons in the Etchells Racing entry, the 37-year-old Bazemore competed in thirty-nine NHRA national events, posting two wins (Sonoma 1999, Denver 2000) in seven final round appearances, and claimed six No. 1 qualifying positions. With six races remaining in the 2000 Winston Drag Racing season, Bazemore stands 6th in the points standings, after matching his career best by finishing 3rd in 1999.
"I've had two good years with Etchells Racing," said Bazemore. "I was honored when I was able to come here in 1999, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity Chuck Etchells gave me. He really threw my career a lifeline, and I'll never forget that. Working for Chuck did a lot of things for me, and I've learned a lot from him in my time here.
"But as Chuck said, this is a business, and there comes a time when you have to look at what other opportunities are available to you. It was a tough decision, but I think it's one that in the long run will work out to be the best for both of us."
Etchells declined to speculate on who Bazemore's possible replacement would be, stating only that he was assessing all potential candidates.
"We are currently evaluating our options, and will make an announcement as
soon as a decision is made. Naturally, we want to find someone who will do
an outstanding job of representing our sponsors and our team both on and off
the track. We also have some exciting developments on the horizon at
Etchells Racing that will strengthen our program and advance it to the next
level. We look forward to bringing the details to you in the near future."