Scelzi Ousted In Early-Round Loss At Gatornationals GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 21, 2004) - Gary Scelzi and crew chief Mike Neff continue to try to make friends with their all-new HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car, but it's been a ...
Scelzi Ousted In Early-Round Loss At Gatornationals
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 21, 2004) - Gary Scelzi and crew chief Mike Neff continue to try to make friends with their all-new HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car, but it's been a challenging relationship, especially at this newly-repaved Gainesville Raceway, home of the NHRA Gatornationals
Scelzi, who started off the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series in third place in the Funny Car point standings after two races, the highest position he's held in his short Funny Car career, dropped to No. 5 today after losing in the first round to Tony Bartone.
With a .127 reaction time to Bartone's .160, Scelzi was in front as the green light flashed, but at 330 feet the car struck the tires, slowing Scelzi to a losing 6.757/135.35 pass. Bartone took the win with a 5.074/265.33 lap.
"We're very disappointed," said Scelzi, the fastest Funny Car driver on the planet (329.18 mph). "We thought that we had all our bases covered. We saw two cars smoke the tires in front of us in different areas. Mike Neff made an adjustment to slow the car down even more, and it did.
"We took timing out to slow the car down in critical areas and it did that. It was running fine and then it just smoked the tires, almost like it hit oil. It didn't hit oil, but it's very confusing and very discouraging to have something like that happen.
"The good news is it's early in the year," continued the Fresno native.
The team will conduct tire tests here on Monday. "We've got a whole new curve ball thrown at us now with these new Goodyear tires that we're going to test on Monday because in Las Vegas the supply is gone. So we'll no longer be running the tires that we've become accustomed to and gotten used to. We're not sure what the new tires want or what they like, but they seem to be more sensitive than the tires that we're running."
Gainesville Raceway's new surface has been the talk of the pits this weekend, and it hasn't all been positive. Scelzi, however, sees a future potential for this historic facility in Northern Florida where a 330-mph run was predicted for this weekend, but failed to materialize. "This track needs to be ground to knock the roughness off of it," he said. "It's smooth, which is a great start. You can't just run on a green race track like this without grinding it. Hopefully we'll complain enough to get them to grind this thing for next year so this track will be one of those that produces big speeds and great E.T.s."
Next up is Round 4, the NHRA Summitracing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.