IN A STRANGE TWIST, REIGNING FUNNY CAR CHAMP SCELZI FAILS TO QUALIFY IN HOUSTON BAYTOWN, Texas (April 1) - No, this is not an April Fool's joke. Gary Scelzi wishes it was, but the reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion (and...
IN A STRANGE TWIST, REIGNING FUNNY CAR CHAMP SCELZI FAILS TO QUALIFY IN HOUSTON
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 1) - No, this is not an April Fool's joke. Gary Scelzi wishes it was, but the reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion (and three-time Top Fuel champ) failed to qualify for and event for only the second time since joining Don Schumacher Racing in 2003. The first was 70 races ago, in Las Vegas in April of that year.
The driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T struggled through all four qualifying rounds for the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals this weekend at Houston Raceway, and only made it into the field one time, in the first session. He moved into No. 16 after Tommy Johnson Jr.'s run was disqualified for crossing the centerline.
Scelzi's lap times reflected the difficulty the car was having getting down the quarter-mile: 9.261/85.19, 7.515/117.00, 6.853/132.32, and finally his best, a 5.307/303.64, which was not good enough to qualify.
"I don't know what's going on here," said Scelzi, who also became a trivia question, when it was declared that he was the first defending Funny Car champion in 21 years to have DNQ'd at an event in the year following his title win. "We made a huge change after the first run today and the car did not respond to anything. It either should have smoked the tires, or it should have done something different. It's just like it's got a governor on it.
"Mike (Neff, crew chief) is in there looking at the computer trying to figure out what to do, but it's got to stop. There's no question about it. We made drastic changes with no response, it just did the same thing.
"We'll test here on Monday," he continued. "We need to test here at Houston Raceway. We don't need to go to Dallas or anywhere else. We need to just go right back where we came from and try to find the problem.
"It's not anybody's fault but our own and, believe me, we won't be down for long."