SCELZI GONE IN VEGAS OPENING ROUND LAS VEGAS (Oct. 28, 2007) - Four-time NHRA world champion and No. 3 qualifier Gary Scelzi was upset in the opening round of eliminations at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, the first of the final two ...
SCELZI GONE IN VEGAS OPENING ROUND
LAS VEGAS (Oct. 28, 2007) - Four-time NHRA world champion and No. 3 qualifier Gary Scelzi was upset in the opening round of eliminations at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, the first of the final two events of the Countdown to One, which will determine the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion out of the top four in points.
Scelzi entered this event second in the standings, and will leave here clinging to that spot, as three of the top four in the Countdown were eliminated in the opening round. Only No. 1 in points Tony Pedregon advanced. He made it to the final round, winning his fourth event of the season.
Ninety-one points separate Pedregon and Scelzi. However, all Pedregon needs to do at the final event in Pomona, Calif., next weekend is qualify to clinch the championship. The only glimmer of hope to snatch the crown from Pedregon would be to win the event, set a national record, and pray that Pedregon does not qualify.
"We're going to Pomona to try to set the record and who knows?" said Scelzi, a Fresno, Calif., native. "Pomona is a great race track. You can haul ass there. We're going to go there and try to haul ass. We're going to go there probably more aggressive than ever, because that's what we need to do."
The driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T faced Cruz Pedregon in the opening stanza and both launched with nearly identical reaction times: .054 for Scelzi, .058 for Cruz. Scelzi held a slim lead until a loss of traction slowed him to a 5.298-second pass at 255.77 mph, while his opponent grabbed the win with a 4.994/303.23. Margin of victory: .3003 of a second.
"We lined up way to the inside and we slowed everything down (in the tune-up)," said Scelzi, whose consistent lap times in qualifying earned the Mopar/Oakley Dodge team the Full Throttle Pit Challenge Award this weekend. "We had our car set up to be exactly like Jack's (teammate Beckman) and Jack broke a blower drive (at the start of his run) and that was unfortunate. We went up there and it started to shake the tire pretty hard. And I almost pedaled it, but I didn't. And when I didn't the shake moved me to the right, out of the groove, so I had the right tire out of the groove. Eventually it went out far enough to make it hard for me to get it back and it smoked the tires.
"It was just an unfortunate thing. It happened, but I would have bet any amount of money that three of the leaders would not have gone out today, but they did.
"I don't like the situation we're in, but that's what happens when it comes down to two races and, if that's the way it is, we can't change it. We just have to deal with it."