Scelzi can't get a break, goes out in first round in Reading READING, Pa. (Oct. 5, 2003) - Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus driver Gary Scelzi just can't get a break this season, it seems. He has the fastest Funny Car on the planet (with a...
Scelzi can't get a break, goes out in first round in Reading
READING, Pa. (Oct. 5, 2003) - Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus driver Gary Scelzi just can't get a break this season, it seems. He has the fastest Funny Car on the planet (with a national speed record of 329.18 mph), but the three-time Top Fuel champion has only one Nitro Funny Car victory under his belt in 20 of 23 events in the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
After only two of four rounds of qualifying were completed for the rain-delayed Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, including one on Sept. 12 and one yesterday, because of rain, Scelzi qualified No. 10. This put him in a first-round match-up against Cruz Pedregon in final eliminations, whom he's beaten the three times they had previously met.
Pedregon nearly redlighted at the Christmas Tree, with a .027 reaction time to Scelzi's .092. Despite Pedregon's advantage at the light, Scelzi's Oakley Dodge rocketship failed to live up to its expectations and appeared to take a Sunday afternoon drive to the finish line with a puff of smoke and a 4.840-second elapsed time at 318.42 mph to Pedregon's winning 4.796/320.43.
"Cruz Pedregon guessed at the light and cut an .027, which is virtually impossible," said Scelzi, in his first full-season of Funny Car competition and aiming to finish at least in the top six in points, "but it doesn't surprise me. It seems like whenever we go to race anybody they do their best and run their best. There's no complaining here; it's happened all year long.
"We tried to run a mid-4.70 and came up with an .84 and hurt the engine. We don't really know what's going on, what's happening. We didn't get that (second) run yesterday that we really needed. We had a soft run to get into the show, and that worked perfectly. We thought that we were gong to be able to run a mid-.70 like we did in Chicago (career-best 4.738). We just missed somewhere. We'll fix everything, look it over and head to Dallas."
Scelzi, of Fresno, Calif., hangs on to eighth place in the Funny Car championship standings, with 956 points.
Next on the schedule is the O'Reilly Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex, Round 21 of 23, Oct. 10-12, 2003.
Don Schumacher Team note: In final eliminations today, Tony Pedregon lost in the first round, giving life back to Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus driver Whit Bazemore's quest for his first Funny Car championship. Bazemore, who DNQ'd for this event, is now 94 points behind Tony Pedregon.