Phoenix: Gary Scelzi Saturday notes

SCELZI ROLLS TO NO. 7 IN PHOENIX QUALIFYING CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 23, 2008) - Gary Scelzi, along with every other competitor in this weekend's NHRA Nationals at Firebird Raceway, the second round of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series,...

SCELZI ROLLS TO NO. 7 IN PHOENIX QUALIFYING

CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 23, 2008) - Gary Scelzi, along with every other competitor in this weekend's NHRA Nationals at Firebird Raceway, the second round of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, fell victim to Mother Nature, as Friday's two pro qualifying sessions were rained out.

With only two Funny Car qualifying rounds available today to make it into Sunday's show, Scelzi and Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T crew chief Todd Okuhara were presented with a tough task, especially after Scelzi's first attempt of 7.958 seconds at 100.40 mph went up in smoke, leaving him outside of the 16-car field.

In just the second pairing in the final session, Scelzi took off into the unknown and produced a solid, straight pass of 4.840 seconds at 320.89 mph, placing him No. 6 at the time. By the end of that qualifying round, he had fallen only one spot, into No. 7.

"Man, that was something else," said Scelzi. "From nowhere to No. 7 in an instant. That was incredible. I have the utmost faith in Todd and the Mopar/Oakley crew, and there's no one better able to pull out such a stout run. It was a nail-biter, but we're in. That's what counts."

Okuhara was the first to admit that having only two qualifying sessions has a major impact. "It affects the qualifying effort a lot," he said. "With the 100 pounds NHRA added and the new 90 percent nitromethane rule, a lot of teams probably don't yet have a good handle on it. We all need all the runs we can get, so the two runs are really critical. And it was nerve-wracking.

"The first run we smoked the tires. We just had a lot of clutch wear again with the added weight. There are some runs where you get more clutch wear than others and it affects the tune-up of the car. And in the second run, we came back, made the right adjustments, thankfully, and we did OK."

The four-time world champion meets up with reigning champion Tony Pedregon in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi