Commerce: Gary Scelzi eliminations summary

COMMERCE, Ga. (May 4, 2003) -- With a strong qualifying run under his belt, his best of the season to take the No. 4 position, Gary Scelzi and his crew chief Mike Neff had high hopes for the Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car this...

COMMERCE, Ga. (May 4, 2003) -- With a strong qualifying run under his belt, his best of the season to take the No. 4 position, Gary Scelzi and his crew chief Mike Neff had high hopes for the Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car this weekend, after struggling the last three events.

In the first round of eliminations, it was Scelzi versus No. 13 qualifier Johnny Gray for their first meeting this season. Gray's reaction time was so quick that it could just as easily have been a red light. Instead, he shot off the line with a .017 reaction time to Scelzi's .109.

However, the race was Scelzi's at the 60-foot mark, which he reached in .896 of a second to Gray's .914. Almost immediately, the Oakley Dodge dropped a cylinder and Scelzi sputtered to the finish line with a respectable 4.972-second pass at 301.00, but not solid enough to beat Gray's 4.864/313.37.

"We had our best 60-foot time that we've had in a long time," Scelzi said. "We had an .896. That was actually staging thin. I know my reaction time looked worse, but it was the best of the weekend. In qualifying we staged thin, just like I did today. Now, I didn't do it on purpose. When I hit the first light I hit it soft.

"Normally I'll hit the first light a little harder and then I'll let go of the brake and let the car roll deeper. I didn't do that. Johnny went in right away. I like Johnny so I didn't let him wait. I went right in after him and I didn't grab my normal chunk that I take on Sundays. But we found out that whatever changes we made picked up the car at 60 feet almost a hundredth of a second.

"The problem was right after the 60-foot mark it dropped a cylinder. We didn't have an .86 in the car anyway. Johnny had an .017 light which, let's just say, was psychic. We won't say it was a guess. But Johnny gets away with those a lot, so maybe he does have something to do with that, I don't know. It put out a cylinder and slowed the car way down. I followed Johnny all the way down the dragstrip.

"I don't know what's going on with this thing; it's possessed. We may have to call a priest and have an exorcism," he added.

"We'll test here tomorrow and probably win the Monday Nationals again."

Scelzi stays in 11th position in the POWERade Funny Car point standings, with 268.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Johnny Gray , Mike Neff