Sonoma: Gary Scelzi Saturday summary

SCELZI RUNS STRONG, OUT-QUALIFIES FORCE IN SONOMA SONOMA, Calif. (July 30, 2005) - Funny Car points leader Robert Hight outqualified them both, but fierce and friendly foes Gary Scelzi and John Force continued their on-track rivalry today, with...

SCELZI RUNS STRONG, OUT-QUALIFIES FORCE IN SONOMA

SONOMA, Calif. (July 30, 2005) - Funny Car points leader Robert Hight outqualified them both, but fierce and friendly foes Gary Scelzi and John Force continued their on-track rivalry today, with Scelzi beating the 13-time championship in qualifying for the fifth straight race.

It's been tough for Scelzi to take advantage of Force's hiccups in recent races and move ahead in points, but he's closed in on him once again by one point by qualifying fifth to Force's seventh today for the Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway, the last race of the three-race Western Swing. High claimed the fourth spot.

The Fresno, Calif., native and driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car recorded four stout runs, including a 4.975/308.85 in the first session, followed by his best run of the weekend on Friday night, a 4.793/325.14, and a 4.902/310.05 and a 4.888/318.02 in the last two rounds.

"We're going to get around him one point at a time," laughed Scelzi, who is third in Funny Car points, while Force is now 10 points ahead in second. Scelzi is seeking his first Funny Car crown to go with his three Top Fuel championships.

"Again, great hot rod this Mopar/Oakley Dodge in qualifying. It goes down the race track every single time no matter what the conditions. Mike (crew chief Neff) is able to make changes and see responses to the car, so it's not like we're making changes and nothing is happening."

"What he's wanting to try is working in different areas. It's great to go out and qualify, get in the field in the top half and to make changes and see results. We've done that again. Now, tomorrow, we'll just go up there and race smart. Hopefully we'll have a little bit of luck being in (my home state) California, and maybe we can repeat what happened two years ago."

Scelzi won his first Funny Car race here in Sonoma in 2003 after switching from Top Fuel to Funny Car in 2002.

"The (hot) conditions don't affect us," he continued. "Two years ago we went down the race track four times in qualifying and we got blue (winner's) hats. And that's what we want to do tomorrow, is to get a blue hat."

The two-time season winner will face Frank Pedregon in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Gary Scelzi , Robert Hight