Scelzi reaches semis at Winternationals POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 29, 2004) - Gary Scelzi has hit the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series running. After reaching the semifinal round in his HEMI-powered Oakley Stratus today in the K&N Filters ...
Scelzi reaches semis at Winternationals
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 29, 2004) - Gary Scelzi has hit the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series running. After reaching the semifinal round in his HEMI-powered Oakley Stratus today in the K&N Filters Winternationals, he is going home third in the Funny Car point standings, the highest position he's held since moving into the Funny Car class in 2002.
The fastest Funny Car pilot on the planet (329.18-mph record set in 2003) was back to his 2003 form in the first round, by posting a strong and winning 4.799-second pass at 324.98 mph against Terry Haddock's 4.873/313.88.
In the second round, he found himself matched up against his teammate Whit Bazemore, not a welcome challenge to the Fresno resident. Bazemore launched a tick quicker in reaction times (.074 to .080), but it was Scelzi in front from the 60-ft. mark on down the quarter-mile, taking the victory over his stablemate by a close margin of .0768 of a second. Scelzi's 4.801/319.37 lap edged out Bazemore's 4.883/314.31.
The final round saw Scelzi head-to-head with Gary Densham from John Force's camp. The pair took off at identical reaction times of .073, but Densham immediately moved into the lead, while Scelzi's car suffered a clutch problem. Densham crossed the finish line first with a 4.775-second elapsed time at 326.63 mph, while Scelzi slowed to a 5.003-second pass at 323.12 mph.
"The HEMI Oakley Stratus did everything it was supposed to do," said Scelzi. "Our engine RPM was perfect. It picked up where it was supposed to pick up, but it just went into shake. So something happened between the second round and the third round. Either the clutch hat (plate) is warped or something warped in the clutch to make it do what it did. We're not really sure.
"But, all in all, we had a pretty good weekend. After the troubles we had in qualifying, making another clutch change and bringing it back to where we were at the finals (last fall), we're pretty happy. It's the highest I've ever been in the Funny Car points. We're pretty upbeat around here.
"It's running extremely well and it's not even close to its potential that we know it can run. So, for having the problems that we've had, I think it's a great outing. I couldn't be happier other than if we had been in the final and had won the race. But this isn't bad. You've go to go the semis, and you've got to qualify well. When you accomplish those two goals, you're a contender. I'm pretty ecstatic right now about the HEMI Oakley Stratus."
Beating his teammate in the second round was a bittersweet accomplishment. "I get really excited to race Baze," Scelzi said. "It's a neat thing. It's bragging rights at the shop, but after you beat Baze it doesn't feel that good, because he is your teammate. But somebody's got to win and somebody's got to lose.
"It's going to be good. Bazemore is struggling a little bit, but they'll be fine. This is only one race. There are 22 more of these things to go. It's going to be a long, bumpy road, I guarantee it."