SCELZI OUT IN FIRST ROUND AT PHOENIX CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 26, 2006) - Defending NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi made an early exit today at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird Raceway after a...
SCELZI OUT IN FIRST ROUND AT PHOENIX
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 26, 2006) - Defending NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi made an early exit today at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird Raceway after a first-round upset by Phil Burkart Jr.
Burkart is famous for being a nemesis to Funny Car champions, as he has a winning record against both 13-time champion John Force and current title holder Scelzi.
No. 9 qualifier Burkart took off at the light with a .065 reaction time to No. 8 Scelzi's .075 and was assured the win when Scelzi's Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car lost traction at half-track. Burkart was on course, crossing the finish line in 4.810 seconds at 322.19 mph, while Scelzi slowed to a 7.565/110.51.
Scelzi leaves here ninth in the Funny Car point standings, as the NHRA circus heads to Gainesville, Fla., for the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals on March 16-19. Scelzi's teammate Ron Capps moved into the points lead with his second-round win here today. Although he lost to John Force in the semifinals, he now leads today's runner-up Force by 15 points.
Sometimes it's tough to run the No. 9 qualifier when one is qualified No. 8, as the qualifying numbers are close to equal, but that wasn't the case today, according to Scelzi. "It really has nothing to do with it," he said. "Burkart and those guys do a great job, but we should be able to take them out. And the car's been nervous at 1.2 second all weekend. It actually started in Pomona (season-opener two weeks ago). We thought we found what we needed to find. We were a little aggressive on Friday (in qualifying) and just assumed that's what it was, but there's something wrong early in the run.
"We have a planned test session here on Monday and Tuesday, to try some things on the car and to run the new Dodge Charger body for me to get accustomed to it so we can run it Gainesville. There's obviously something wrong and we can't put our finger on it, but we'll find it.
"The car is just not smooth at 60 feet to 100 feet and we need to fix that and we need to fix that now. We need to stay in the top 10, which we are, but we need to get this program turned around and we need to get it turned around fast.
"(Crew chief) Mike Neff and these Mopar/Oakley Dodge guys are willing to do whatever it takes and so am I. So, we'll test the next couple of days and get ready for Gainesville.
"Capps is doing a great job. And it's good to see him doing well," he said of his teammate. "With (Whit) Bazemore (who also lost in the first round) struggling and myself struggling we need a team member like him to carry the torch, if you will."