Memphis: Gary Scelzi Saturday summary

Scelzi collects No. 2 in Memphis final qualifying MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2004) - Gary Scelzi, driving the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car, pulled out a stout pass in the final qualifying session for the O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA ...

Scelzi collects No. 2 in Memphis final qualifying

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2004) - Gary Scelzi, driving the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car, pulled out a stout pass in the final qualifying session for the O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals today and even gave his teammate and No. 1 qualifier Whit Bazemore a scare, with his stellar 4.863-second pass at 310.20 mph. This run placed Scelzi in second, just a tick behind Bazemore's No. 1 pass of 4.862 seconds. Bazemore then surpassed that run with a 4.856, and Scelzi held on to No. 2.

As Scelzi waited to make his final qualifying attempt, he was No. 9 and Funny Car points leader John Force was No. 8. With a 6-4 winning record against Force, Scelzi would have faced Force in the first round of eliminations if the standings remained the same. Scelzi jokingly considered aborting the attempt. "I almost got on the radio when I heard we had Force first round and asked if they wanted me to shut it off early," he laughed, "but then Force picked it up (to seventh) and there was no sense looking for trouble. We'll find trouble tomorrow, I'm sure.

"It's great to be in the No. 2 position," he added. "The (blower) belt came off right before I shut off at about 1200 feet and we could have been on the pole just as easily as we were second. Still, we weren't really trying to go for it. We were just trying to smooth things out and make minor adjustments. Mike (Neff, crew chief) said that it would probably run an .87, an .88. He didn't miss by much. He missed on the right side of it.

"When he calls it and it does what it's supposed to do, that makes me feel comfortable, and it makes him feel comfortable that the tuneup is where it's supposed to be. In the first round in Brainerd (last week, where he reached the final round) it ran an .86 and we thought it would run maybe a .90 or .95. That was a little surprising. It also told us that, hey, we're above the power level where we need to be.

"I feel good about tomorrow. Baze is on the other side of the ladder. If we both do our jobs we can have some fun at about 7:30 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night."

Scelzi will face Bob Gilbertson in the first round of final eliminations on Sunday.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Gilbertson , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi