BECKMAN TO TEST BAZEMORE'S MATCO TOOLS CAR IN INDY NEXT WEEK
Rumors had surfaced indicating that Bazemore might be at the end of his deal with Don Schumacher Racing, but the veteran driver is confident of his status and isn’t intimidated by the situation.
“I really don’t care one way or the other about Jack driving the car,” Bazemore said. “It doesn’t mean anything to me. The relationship that I have with Matco Tools is very strong. The relationship I have with Don and Sarah Schumacher is strong. Don has told me repeatedly that I am the second best Funny Car driver out there, which a tremendous compliment. Given that and my relationship with the sponsor, I’d have to say Jack Beckman isn’t driving this car to replace me.”
Bazemore did say there is room to expect the unexpected.
“But, he does bring a lot of sponsorship to the table. I don’t think it’s right to automatically assume anything. In all fairness, the Matco Tools Funny Car is probably the one that fits him the best. That’s why he’s driving.
“I try to do the most professional job and try to drive at the best of my ability,” Bazemore said. “I feel that I am at the top of my game now. We have passionate fans. I have a great relationship with the sponsor and if Don wants to put Jack Beckman in the car because he brings seven-figure sponsorship to the table – then more power to him.
“I’m not out here driving for free and I know my ability. If I get replaced by a rookie who has completely unknown qualities then it’s a decision outside of my control and I really don’t care.”
Bazemore has no contract for 2007 and he’s had interest elsewhere. Don’t expect him to shop around at the conclusion of the season like a stick and ball sport free agent, however. He wants to be with Schumacher for a while.
“A lot of things depend on funding and sponsorships,” Bazemore said. “It’s highly unlikely things will take this path, but what if Jack Beckman is to drive that car? Would the sponsors want that? That remains to be seen. Is that what the team wants? It’s up to Don if I stay here or not. I’ve made it clear what I want to and I think we have a great opportunity. We’ve had some unsettling things in terms of personnel over the last few years with guys being moved around. I think things are starting to gel and this team has a lot of potential. We are realizing it.”
“You look at your problems and you fix them and that’s what we have been doing. I would hate it for the team’s sake to see things get disrupted. I would hate it for them and hate it for Matco Tools. I just have to say I wouldn’t read much into Jack driving my car on Wednesday.”
If history repeats, considering Gary Scelzi also drove Bazemore’s flopper before stepping into the Oakley ride, could this mean a fifth car?