SCELZI HOLDS ON TO NO. 1 IN READING, GAINS FIVE POINTS ON HIGHT
READING, Pa. (Sept. 17, 2005) - Except in the first round of Funny Car qualifying for this weekend's NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, when he qualified No. 2, Gary Scelzi has stormed through each remaining session with the quickest passes in each.
The driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car ripped down the quarter-mile Friday night to a pole-setting 4.765-second elapsed time at 322.11 mph, and held it through the final qualifying round, posting a 4.817/316.90 earlier today and finally a crushing 4.769/323.58 in the heat.
The three-time Top Fuel champion who is seeking his first Funny Car crown sent a clear message that his is the car to beat in Sunday's eliminations.
Scelzi collected his fourth No. 1 of the season, his 40th career, and gained five points on Robert Hight, who qualified No. 8. Scelzi now leads the Funny Car point standings by six points over Hight.
The Fresno, Calif., native and defending Funny Car titlist here, faces Gary Densham in the first round of eliminations, while his teammate Ron Capps, also in the Funny Car championship chase, will meet Hight.
"[The Mopar/Oakley Dodge] has been the most consistent, it's been the quickest, or right next to the quickest every single run, which is scary. Because sometimes you wait for that one bad one and you think, OK, that's out of the way. We've done well when we've made four qualifying runs in the past. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
"Nobody knows. It's going to be a hell of a race tomorrow, first and second round."
On Maple Grove Raceway being famous for great numbers because of the usually cooler conditions present here at this time of year: "This track is really good when it's cold," said Scelzi. "I've got to eat my words. It's pretty darn good when the sun's out. We ran well, the dragsters have run well and as porous as the asphalt is I wouldn't think that would be possible.
"The NHRA has done a hell of a job. I'll eat my hat...if it had a steak on top of it.
"We just deal with the weather as it comes. There's nothing we can do about it. So I'm not one to play much into it. That's all (crew chief) Mike Neff's problems. That's not my problem.
"My problem is to hit the gas on time and keep it in the groove and hopefully the win lights will come on."