Commerce: Gary Scelzi Saturday summary

SCELZI NAILS HIS SECOND POLE OF THE SEASON IN ATLANTA COMMERCE, Ga. (May 14, 2005) - Demonstrating once again that he drives arguably the best Funny Car on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series circuit, Gary Scelzi captured his second pole...

SCELZI NAILS HIS SECOND POLE OF THE SEASON IN ATLANTA

COMMERCE, Ga. (May 14, 2005) - Demonstrating once again that he drives arguably the best Funny Car on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series circuit, Gary Scelzi captured his second pole position of the season, his fifth in the Funny Car class, and his 38th overall, in the final qualifying session for the NHRA Southern Nationals today.

This also marked his second No. 1 qualifying position in the last three races, driving the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing to a 4.782-second pass at 326.87 mph.

After three qualifying sessions, a thunderstorm blew through the area, delaying the running of a fourth and final session for two and a half hours. If that last run had been washed out, Scelzi would have faced his teammate Ron Capps in the first round of eliminations on Sunday, not a prospect either driver or Scelzi's crew chief Mike Neff were looking forward to.

Fortunately, the skies cleared, and Scelzi blasted to No. 1, while Capps grabbed the No. 2 spot.

"We were talking how we didn't really want to race Capps in the first round," said Scelzi. "They kept saying it was going to clear, but we didn't know for how long, there could be another storm brewing up. So Neff said, 'You know what, we're going to go for the pole. We're going to try to get after this thing.'

"When the weather changes this drastically sometimes you want to make a head-gasket change and things like that, but Mike said we'll be all right. We'll just make a blower change and a timing change and we'll be OK. At least three times we changed the timing and the clutch flows and everything on the way up [to the line]. It got down to the last minute, and then Tommy Johnson goes down and runs a .78. [Neff] went in there for one final trip to change the timers. I said, Oh, God, this thing is either going to make it or not and right about 1.2 or 1 second into the run it just did a quick rattle and it went right through it, and made it.

"I honestly did not think [that ET] was going to hold, because everybody saw what was going on behind us and I thought everybody knew the game. They were just going to open everything up and go on.

"What it's going to be like tomorrow, who knows, but you had to take a shot. We're going to be fine. Our tune-up is very similar to Capps' and (teammate Whit) Bazemore's. They're all pretty close.

"On Sunday the best car doesn't always win," he said. "Tomorrow is a whole different ballgame. It could be hot and slippery. I think we've got a very good car, as good as anybody else's, but are we going to be lucky tomorrow? I don't know. Or are we going to make our own luck?

"Stay tuned next week, folks, and see if our super-hero can do it again," said Scelzi, winner two weeks ago at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway.

Scelzi has never spared praise for his crew chief. "I'm not surprised by anything that Mike Neff is doing. We're awful close. I don't want to say I was right, but when I first started with Mike Neff I said everyone was going to know this name. Before it's all said and done you're going to know who Mike 'Zippy' Neff is. And I think it didn't take long for everybody to catch on and find out who he is. He's become a household name here and I'm awful proud of him and the guys who work on the Mopar/Oakley Dodge."

Scelzi faces No. 16 qualifier Richard Hartman in first round of eliminations on Sunday.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Gary Scelzi , Tommy Johnson , Richard Hartman , Mike Neff