Denver: Gary Scelzi eliminations summary

Scelzi loses close race in first round DENVER, Colo. (July 20, 2003) - Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus driver Gary Scelzi knew he had a major challenge in front of him in the first round of Funny Car final eliminations at the Mopar Mile-high ...

Scelzi loses close race in first round

DENVER, Colo. (July 20, 2003) - Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus driver Gary Scelzi knew he had a major challenge in front of him in the first round of Funny Car final eliminations at the Mopar Mile-high NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. As the No. 16 qualifier, he would face the low qualifier, Tim Wilkerson. Scelzi took off at the starting lights with a reaction time of .085 to Wilkerson's .097. It was close, but it was Willkerson first across the finish line with a 5.102/287.35 pass to Scelzi's 5.130/296.11, by a margin of victory of only .0166 of a second!

The three-time Top Fuel champion, however, was encouraged by the Oakley Dodge's performance.

"For getting beat, we're pretty happy," said Scelzi, who's advanced to the second round six times this season in 13 races. "We're using some of the new clutch stuff. We actually got a little more aggressive with it early, but when you get behind in qualifying and you don't have that shot to see where you can go, that's what happens when you have to run the fast guy the first round. Everything went right for Tim."

"We got the car to not smoke the tires," he added. "It ran 296 mph and dropped a cylinder down there, which probably cost us the race, but it went perfectly straight. The motor is perfect, the clutch is still soft on a hot race track. The race track was 125 degrees, which is probably what we're going to have in Seattle or Sonoma."

"I'm sure we're not done with this hot weather yet. So, that tells us that we've got a really good baseline when we go to Seattle now or Sonoma - either one - so that's going to work. I think the bugaboos are a little bit behind us now."

"We've had great luck with superchargers after we made the change to Drazy. They go several runs, so that's not a problem that we're chasing. We fixed a lot of the problems that cause us not to be consistent. We went .19 last night with cylinders dropping, spinning the tires, doing some things. We learned a lot. Mike Neff (crew chief) and Dan Olson (co-crew chief) got together this morning early. They looked at all the runs; they compared everything. They not only looked at the moves they were going to make but the domino effect - if we make this change, what else can it affect. We don't want to have any unknowns. Obviously, they did a great job. I am very happy with Mike and Dan. They work together really well and they're really putting their heads together. We're tired of getting beat and we're going to get this thing handled."

Scelzi's Oakley teammate Scotty Cannon was the ultimate team player today after defeating No. 1 in points Tony Pedregon in the first round, helping his teammate Whit Bazemore, second in points, carve away at Pedregon's lead in the NHRA POWErade Drag Racing Series Funny Car standiings. "That's outstanding," said Scelzi. "Scotty made his car go down the race track - obviously with a car with a lot less downforce than we have and that was outstanding."

Scelzi remains 11th in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings with 546.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Scotty Cannon , Tim Wilkerson , Mike Neff