MORRISON, Colo. - Gary Scelzi scored his third straight No. 1 Top Fuel qualifying position Saturday at the 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
Whit Bazemore, Bruce Allen and Antron Brown also were the No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the 14th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
Scelzi blasted his Team Winston dragster down the quarter-mile in 4.646 seconds at 315.64 mph to lead the 16-car field for the 32nd time in 102 career starts. He will square off against Bobby Lagana Jr. in the first round of eliminations as teams struggle to find the right tune-up for the elevation at the scenic quarter-mile strip. Scelzi is hoping to mount a second half comeback in what can be described as a disappointing performance for the three-time Winston champ in the first part of the NHRA's 50th anniversary season.
"We made it down the track in these conditions every time except the first and that is a good sign," said Scelzi. "To win this race you are going to have to get down the track on each pass and it looks like we can do it. If we can have a little bit of racing luck tomorrow, maybe I will get (the win)."
Bazemore blistered the track in his Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird with an elapsed time track record run of 4.951 at 304.74 to lead the Funny Car category for the second straight event and for the second straight year at the mountainside facility.
"This was a tremendous job by the team," said Bazemore. "We knew the track could take a good number and we were able to get it. We set the track record last season and we wanted it back. Who would have thought that so many cars would have run these times at 5800 feet elevation. Everyone is so competitive this year and it just shows with the performances."
Last season Bazemore made the first Funny Car pass at Bandimere that registered an elapsed time under five seconds. At this year's event, 10 Funny Car drivers posted a time of 4.99 or better.
Allen drove his Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am to the top of the Pro Stock order for the third time this year when he covered the distance in 7.273 at 189.18. The Arlington, Texas, driver will face No. 16 qualifier Allen Johnson in the opening round.
Brown grabbed his category-leading fifth top spot of the season with an elapsed time track record pass of 7.641 at 176.88 atop his Team 23 Suzuki to lead all Pro Stock Motorcycles. Brown first round opponent will be Brian DeLong who is seeking his first round win of the season. Hometown favorite Matt Hines and current Winston points leader Angelle Savoie qualified second and third respectively.
Professional eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m.