Baytown: Gary Scelzi Saturday summary

Scelzi Makes it into Houston Field in Final Pass HOUSTON, Texas (April 17, 2004) - It was a squeaker, but Gary Scelzi finally got his HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus into the Funny Car field for the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals in today's ...

Scelzi Makes it into Houston Field in Final Pass

HOUSTON, Texas (April 17, 2004) - It was a squeaker, but Gary Scelzi finally got his HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus into the Funny Car field for the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals in today's final pass, following a series of tire-smoking qualifying rounds, which found him on the outside looking in, in No. 17.

After three uncharacteristically slow passes of 10.566/79.49, 9.087/88.07 and 6.032/222.00, you could say he improved in every round. And, of course he did. Unfortunately, he was still in No. 17 as he came up to the line for his final chance to play on Sunday. He's had better runs, but the 5.080-second elapsed time at 297.48 mph was good enough to move him safely into No. 14.

"I really don't get nervous anymore," said Scelzi, who owns the national top-speed record of 329.18 mph. "And for some reason I wasn't nervous this time. Before we pulled up, (crew chief) Mike Neff said it should go down there. I said, Well, you know what, it's fate. It's either going to go or it isn't going to go. We're either going to get in or we're not going to get in.

"You could make yourself a mess and force a mistake by anticipating a problem. I've been doing this for a long time. If you just go do it and you don't think about it - like I did when I had to pedal it - you just do it. The car either recovers or it doesn't. Fortunately for us it did."

Scelzi started out the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season strong by going to the semifinals in the first race and now finds himself battling to remain sixth in points after being as high as third. "We made a major change again," he added. "The car hasn't been consistent like we've worked all winter to get it to do. And we can't wait any longer. It's crunch time now. We cannot fall any further back in the points. We have to get this combination right. We think what we've got now is right. Time will tell. But I feel good.

"You can't win if you're not in the show and we're in the show. I've won from 16th, 15th and from No. 1. We're going to give it everything we've got against whoever pulls up beside me. Hopefully the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge will just do what it's supposed to do and we'll get the rest."

Scelzi will face Jeff Arend in the first round of eliminations tomorrow.

-gsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Jeff Arend , Mike Neff