Scelzi steps up to plate, qualifies No. 9 for U.S. Nationals INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 5, 2004) - Gary Scelzi and the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car team stepped up to the plate this afternoon in the final qualifying session for the U.S.
Scelzi steps up to plate, qualifies No. 9 for U.S. Nationals
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 5, 2004) - Gary Scelzi and the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car team stepped up to the plate this afternoon in the final qualifying session for the U.S. Nationals, by posting the second-quickest pass of that round in hot and humid conditions, under a slight cloud cover. His 4.870-second elapsed time at 316.82 mph moved him up to ninth place, and it gave the team encouragement for good performance under similar conditions in tomorrow's eliminations rounds.
"An .87 wasn't bad," he said at the top end, "but it wasn't looking good against that 4.84 of Tony's (Pedregon in the other lane).
"We got in trouble this morning (losing in the first round of the Skoal Showdown). We smoked the tires, so Zippy (crew chief Mike Neff) changed things around a little bit. I'm sure the cloud cover helped a little bit (in this run), but tomorrow there's going to be sunshine. We're coming out swinging tomorrow, Baby, because that's all you can do.
"These are the conditions we're racing in. Actually, the track was a little better than we thought when we got up there.
"With an .89 in the heat of the day (in the second qualifying round) and an .87 right now - except for the miscue this morning - we're going for it. We'll see what happens."
NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points leader John Force qualified No. 1. Scelzi is second in points and would like nothing better than to carve away the 220-point deficit he holds, with six events left in the season. "We've just got to pay attention and hope Force goes out early," he said.
"He's looked pretty strong in qualifying, but I've seen that happen before and he kind of slipped up tonight in the final of the Skoal Showdown (where he hazed the tires at the finish and lost to his teammate Gary Densham). Maybe he'll have a little trouble tomorrow."
Force will meet No. 16 qualifier Jim Head in the first round of eliminations. "Jim Head's gone down the track a couple of times," added Scelzi, "and Force could be there for the picking tomorrow."
Scelzi faces his teammate Johnny Gray in Don Schumacher's Wonder Wagon Stratus in the first round of eliminations, which begin at 11 a.m. on Monday.