Joliet: Gary Scelzi eliminations report

Scelzi demolishes national Funny Car speed record with 328.06 mph pass JOLIET, Ill. (June 1, 2003) - Gary Scelzi demolished the national Funny Car speed record today in his Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus R/T, even surpassing the fastest speed he...

Scelzi demolishes national Funny Car speed record with 328.06 mph pass

JOLIET, Ill. (June 1, 2003) - Gary Scelzi demolished the national Funny Car speed record today in his Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus R/T, even surpassing the fastest speed he established yesterday of 327.95, with a 328.06-mph lap in today's first round of final eliminations against Tim Wilkerson in the Lucas Oil NHRA Route 66 Nationals.

Scelzi first set the fastest speed for the class in Englishtown with a 326.95 -mph run. He then eclipsed that speed here at Route 66 Raceway yesterday with a 327.95, and today he finally made it into the record books by backing up the 327.95 for a national record with an even faster 328.06 mph run.

"It's pretty incredible," he said. "It was a handful. I was so busy in that car that I thought I was all over the place and out of the groove. And, actually, looking at the videos, I did a pretty good job of keeping it in the middle of the race track. It was a lot busier in the car than it looked outside the car, so that made me feel good. That speed is pretty much going to be out of touch for a while, I think. Maybe at the end of the year when we get back to the cooler race tracks. The fastest speed ever by a Funny Car before that with (Gary) Densham was a 326. We knocked that in the dirt by two miles an hour. That's pretty huge. You don't see that very often."

"Nobody's even been close to that," he added. "That's outstanding. Thank you Dodge and all of your people and engineers. Your hard work has paid big dividends for Team Oakley, Team Matco and Team Schumacher."

Of course, the one question that comes to mind is: How come it's your car that's the fastest? "Speed is horsepower," Scelzi replied, "and Mike (Neff, crew chief) runs these motors aggressively. 'Baze' (Whit Bazemore, Scelzi's teammate) ran 326, but our car's a little bit softer early, so the tires stuck harder and it still had all its eight cylinders at the finish line. And when it does, stand back, Jack, because it gets with the program."

After Ron Capps oiled down the more favorable left lane in the second round, teams began to switch to the bumpy right lane. It worked for Scelzi's teammate Whit Bazemore, who advanced to the semifinal round out of the right lane. But it didn't work for Scelzi, as he was eliminated by Gary Densham, with both cars smoking the tires and the drivers having a pedaling contest towards the finish line. Densham took the win light with a 5.495/235.68 to Scelzi's 5.640/214.25.

"God, I really thought today was the day," said the three-time Top Fuel champion still seeking his first Funny Car win. "Then we had the huge oildown by Capps. And the lanes were just junk, pure and simple. It got hot, it got oily, and we tried to slow the car down. I'm probably more upset at myself that I didn't have the patience to let the car settle enough to get it down the race track. In the dragster I was pretty much a master at doing that stuff. I tried to stay calm sitting in the car for almost an hour. That was ridiculous. And I got myself pumped up and I was just over-amping and I did a pretty crummy job of pedaling, in my mind. I haven't been in a pedaling contest very often in a Funny Car.

"Not a good day for me. Good day for the team, good day for Dodge. We went out second round in all three races (Midwest sweep). It's not bad; it could've been a lot worse. We'll take it and we'll go to Columbus and see how we do in the warmer weather."

Scelzi remains ninth in the POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings, with 428 points.

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham