Joliet: Gary Scelzi Friday summary

Scelzi unleashes his Hemi to first 330-mph run in NHRA history JOLIET, Ill. (May 21, 2004) - As promised, Gary Scelzi unleashed the HEMI power in his Oakley Dodge Stratus tonight and blasted to the first 330-mph Funny Car run in NHRA history. In...

Scelzi unleashes his Hemi to first 330-mph run in NHRA history

JOLIET, Ill. (May 21, 2004) - As promised, Gary Scelzi unleashed the HEMI power in his Oakley Dodge Stratus tonight and blasted to the first 330-mph Funny Car run in NHRA history. In a side-by-side match-up against his teammate Whit Bazemore in the second qualifying session, the man who established the national top-speed record of 329.18 mph here at Route 66 Raceway last September, surpassed that speed with a 330.15-mph run at 4.762 seconds, which placed him third in the field.

The bad news is that Tony Pedregon, in the pair that followed, eclipsed that speed with an even faster 331.28-mph run. The conditions were perfect tonight after Funny Car action was put on hold for an hour halfway through the field because of high winds. When the winds died down and qualifying continued, the temperatures cooled and the smooth surface of the newly-repaved quarter-mile delivered the advertised speeds.

Both drivers will attempt to back up their speeds for a new national top-speed record tomorrow. For Gary Scelzi to back up his speed to establish a new top-speed record, he would have to run 326.84 mph. For Pedregon to back up his record, it would take a 327.96-mph run.

"We had the thing with a different tune-up in it because the air got better, the water grains dropped and so we slowed the blower down," said Scelzi. "We couldn't change head gaskets, so we dragged it back (to the pits after the hold), the air kept getting better, kept getting better and we knew this track was fantasyland. So we came back and slowed the blower some more. That's all we did was slow the blower down. We did that in the staging lanes once; by the time we got back we did it again.

"The 330 was a shock until I hit the gas. I honestly didn't think we were going to run 330 tonight. I figured we would just go out and try to run a good solid 4.70-something (ET) and be happy with that. But (crew chief) Mike Neff had different plans, I think.

"Our car was actually a little bit slow early and not as fast and as quick as it's been to half-track before.

"It could have run 333 tonight, no exaggeration, 332 or 333. Tomorrow, who knows what the conditions are going to be like and if we can run fast enough to back this up. If it's cool then we can run faster than 330. It's possible."

Co-crew chief Dan Olson was crew chief on Tony Schumacher's Top Fuel Dragster when he posted his first 330-mph run, and is co-crew chief on Scelzi's Dodge for his first 330-mph pass. "Mike Neff and Dan Olson have worked really hard to make this car really consistent," said Scelzi. "We've changed our fuel system, we've changed our engine combination completely from what it was last year when we ran 329 mph - from bigger fuel pumps to different slide valves, to this hootenanny to that thingamajigger to a completely different clutch. We made major changes this year, and to run as well as we're running, I'm really amazed and I'm very happy."

The Fresno resident has high praise for this track. "When they took the bumps out I got nervous. I thought, Oh, God, who cares about the bumps because this race track is so good. NHRA should take samples of this race track and take them to wherever it is in the country where they redo a race track, because it's absolutely perfect. The asphalt is really tight so the rubber sticks to it. The concrete doesn't get bald spots even when it gets hot. It does everything right and it's a crew chief's dream. And it's flat."

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Mike Neff