SCELZI'S DRAMATIC DAY ENDS IN SECOND ROUND IN ATLANTA COMMERCE, Ga. (May 15, 2005) - Gary Scelzi's dramatic day at the NHRA Southern Nationals ended in the quarterfinal today when he lost to Cruz Pedregon. The fact that the Mopar/Oakley Dodge ...
SCELZI'S DRAMATIC DAY ENDS IN SECOND ROUND IN ATLANTA
COMMERCE, Ga. (May 15, 2005) - Gary Scelzi's dramatic day at the NHRA Southern Nationals ended in the quarterfinal today when he lost to Cruz Pedregon. The fact that the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car even made it down the track in 4.917 seconds at 304.05 mph to Pedregon's winning 4.882/315.78 was testament to crew chief Mike Neff and his band of warriors who put the car back together following an explosion in a winning first round against Richard Hartman.
Scelzi won the opener with a 7.425/112.64 pass to Hartman's 9.017/126.80, but a burst of fire in the car at half-track demolished a number of valuable components, which had to be replaced before the second round match-up. As the team scurried to replace the damaged parts, a welcome rain shower provided some breathing space. Following five warm-ups to set the rpm readings, the team was back on the starting line in the first Funny Car match-up after the rain stopped.
The Fresno, Calif., native launched first off the line with a .072 reaction time to Pedregon's .082. It was close, but a failing cylinder pulled Scelzi to the wall, and his day was over, as Pedregon edged him out at the finish line by .0256 of a second.
"It didn't do what it wanted to do, obviously," said a disappointed Scelzi. "We had to change superchargers, fuel pumps, we had problems with the computer. We had a lot of things that we had to change after that explosion. It shook, I pedaled it, and for whatever reason the bottom of the fuel pump suction broke off, it went lean, and all the fuel ignited when it banged the supercharger. We had a lot of havoc here.
"It was a pretty big effort to drag the Mopar/Oakley Dodge back up there and run as well as it did. It dropped a hole (cylinder) down there a little ways. It was driving over to the wall and I had to click it. I clicked it a little early, but Cruz was running pretty well.
"It was one of those unfortunate things, but we'll be OK. We'll get everything straightened out this week and pull into Columbus (Ohio) as good as we've ever been."
Scelzi is now fifth in the point standings, with 428 points.
Next up is the Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, May 20-22, 2005.