Pomona II: Gary Scelzi final summary

Scelzi wraps up 2004 third in Funny Car points POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 14, 2004) - Gary Scelzi wrapped up his second full season in Funny Car today by claiming third place in the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, behind John Force and Del ...

Scelzi wraps up 2004 third in Funny Car points

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 14, 2004) - Gary Scelzi wrapped up his second full season in Funny Car today by claiming third place in the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, behind John Force and Del Worsham.

After Force clinched his 13th Funny Car crown in Las Vegas, the battle for second place between Scelzi and Worsham, who were tied in points, came down to today's season finale. Both drivers set identical qualifying times, with Worsham taking No. 3 because of speed and Scelzi being relegated to No. 4. This gave Worsham a one-point edge going into eliminations.

Both drivers advanced to the semifinal round. Scelzi defeated Bob Bode and Tony Pedregon, Worsham took out Scelzi's teammate Johnny Gray and his own teammate Phil Burkart Jr.

Scelzi's win in the second round against Pedregon came from the less-desirable right lane with a 4.802-second elapsed time. John Force's 4.764-second win against his teammate Eric Medlen earned him lane choice against Scelzi, and Scelzi found himself once again on the right side of the quarter-mile in the semis.

Despite having a 9-5 round win-loss record against Force and defeating him in all three of his season victories, including the last two events, Scelzi was ready for what he knew would be a tough match-up. Scelzi was first off the line with a .083 reaction time (.000 is perfect), while Force appeared to take a short nap before launching with a surprising .188. Unfortunately for Scelzi, his early edge went up in smoke at the hit and he coasted to a losing 7.729 ET at 111.78 mph. Force claimed an easy triumph with a 4.728/323.97.

Make that 9-6.

With that loss, Worsham grabbed second place in the championship by one point, even if he'd lost in the semifinal. He won the semifinal round and then lost to Force in the final.

"I tell you what, Del and I fought a battle. I hope the fans enjoyed it because I've got to go throw up," said Scelzi at the top end after losing to Force and acknowledging what a tough fight he'd had for second.

"Zip (crew chief Mike Neff) coaxed her down there (right lane) in the second round. We thought we could probably pick it up just a little bit more and the HEMI Oakley Dodge just didn't want any part of it.

"Actually, the driveshaft graph on the computer looks identical to the round before. We just didn't get away with it. It was on the edge in the right lane. Worsham ran a .78 (in the semi), so obviously it's there.

"He tried (to give it to me)," he said of Force's .188 reaction time. "John has a little trouble against me now and again and we enjoy that. It makes us proud that we can shake up the 13-time champion every now and then. But don't worry about John, he'll come back meaner and stronger than ever next year, so will we.

"It was a great year. Three wins, six final rounds. Mike's really coming into his own. This team has just been incredible. I'm ready. We'll start testing here in the next couple of weeks and we'll get ready for next year.

"Del and his team hit their stride at the right time. They've never finished second before and it's a big deal, especially against Force. I think Force has his work cut out for him next year because the Worsham team is obviously on its game.

"I think we proved to ourselves and to everyone else that we can run on any type of race track. We're pretty pleased; we're ready to get after it."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Phil Burkart , Johnny Gray , Bob Bode , Eric Medlen , Mike Neff