Las Vegas II: Gary Scelzi Saturday summary

SCELZI CLAIMS HIS FIFTH NO. 1 OF SEASON IN VEGAS LAS VEGAS (Oct. 22, 2005) - Gary Scelzi and his Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T crew chief Mike Neff rolled the dice in the final Funny Car qualifying session for the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA...

SCELZI CLAIMS HIS FIFTH NO. 1 OF SEASON IN VEGAS

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 22, 2005) - Gary Scelzi and his Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T crew chief Mike Neff rolled the dice in the final Funny Car qualifying session for the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and came up winners.

Scelzi claimed his fifth No. 1 qualifying position of the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, the 41st of his career and eighth in Funny Car, posting an elapsed-time track record of 4.746 seconds and top speed of 327.90 mph in the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history.

His other runs included a 4.824/324.12, a 4.776/327.90 and a 4.821/322.81.

The Fresno, Calif., native also gained four markers on points leader John Force, who qualified fifth, and is now 32 points behind in second going into final eliminations on Sunday, where he'll meet Gary Densham in the first round.

"That's still two rounds, no matter how you add it up," he said of the 32-point deficit to Force.

"We've had a good car all year long, really. We've just had some stupid things happen, myself included.

"Zippy and I had been talking - we played golf on Thursday - and, really, since the middle of last year the car's been very good. A little bit inconsistent, but this year it's been a lot better. It's just fast and Mike has really matured as a crew chief.

"We've made changes (before qualifying) backing up from the burnout...and he's not doing that. He's pretty confident in his tune-up. And it was so funny. Normally, on a session like this when it keeps getting better and the numbers keep coming up he keeps going back in the box.

"But evidently he made his mind up before we left the pit area. He was opening everything up, putting everything on it, doing everything he could. He made one adjustment up here (at the starting line) about four cars back. And when Cruz (Pedregon) went out and ran that 4.76 and Capps went 4.75 and Force went .76 I kept waiting for him to get back to the box and turn the computer on and change the timing map. Never happened. I thought, Uh oh, this thing is either going to fly or it's going to smoke the tires.

"When it made it past 60 ft. I said, Here we go. It was a serious run, a real serious run."

The second qualifying run each day was run under cooler, darker conditions than expected. "We kind of had a feeling it was going to run late tonight," added Scelzi, "like it did last night and we're not going to race in these conditions.

"We've been behind early all weekend. This starting line is exceptional. The whole race track is really good. Not a lot of cars are smoking the tires so, realistically, the move we made tonight is going to help us tomorrow, even though these conditions are great, and unlike tomorrow, this race track will take a lot more than we've been giving it early.

"We feel we can be a little bit more aggressive early and still run on the safe side. We're not going to get stupid tomorrow. We're just going to try to push it a little bit more early and just keep it in that range and it will be as good as anybody else, maybe even a little better.

"This is a race you have to win. The playing games are over. You need to win here and you need to win Pomona. But right now we''re just going to focus on Vegas and we have to win."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham , Mike Neff