Mopar Speed Monday, October 11, 2004 NHRA FC Scelzi, Schumacher win at Maple Grove Raceway Gary Scelzi claimed his second event win of the season, the third of his Funny Car career, and his second against the legendary John Force, at ...
Monday, October 11, 2004
Scelzi, Schumacher win at Maple Grove Raceway
Gary Scelzi claimed his second event win of the season, the third of his Funny Car career, and his second against the legendary John Force, at the hurricane-Ivan-postponed Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.
The HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus was not up to its usual performance, but grit, determination, outstanding driving, and perhaps a little luck resulted in wins over Whit Bazemore, Gary Densham, Tony Pedregon (by 5 feet), and finally John Force in the final.
Had Force won the race, he would have clinched his 13th Funny Car crown. Instead, the battle for the Funny Car championship goes to the next event. Scelzi's chances to win his first Funny Car championship once Force made it to the final round were permanently dashed, and the chase for second gets tighter among Del Worsham, Whit Bazemore, Eric Medlen and Gary Densham, with two events remaining.
Scelzi took the win with a 4.853-second elapsed time at 308.28 mph after Force smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle and slowed to an 11.507/86.39.
"You know, it just feels so good to win," said Scelzi in the winner's circle. "Don [Schumacher] said, 'Hey, good job, good job,' every round, like he did in Indy [U.S. Nationals] and we made it to the semis there. But we didn't get 'er done, if you know what I mean. I'm not in the right part of the world to say 'get 'er done' here, but you get an empty feeling if you don't finish the job." Scelzi clearly finished the job here and his win-loss record against Force now stands at 8-5.
While Force was spitting out 4.7-second elapsed times today, Scelzi was winning on his side of the ladder with a 4.807, 4.851 and 4.837.
"We knew we were in trouble against Force. We knew that he'd probably unload a 4.73 or 4.74 on us," said Scelzi, the three-time Top Fuel champion. "But when you run that quick, you're on the edge. And with the cloud cover [crew chief], Mike Neff started looking at the thing and what we need to do, what we thought we needed to do during the day, but we didn't want to take the chance. We just wanted to run as quick as we thought we could, safely. When we got to the final ... we tried something and it actually worked, believe it or not, in the middle of the racetrack."
Scelzi's win rounded off a first-time, three-class sweep by Don Schumacher Racing, as Angelle Savoie in Pro Stock Bike and Tony Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army dragster, in Top Fuel were also winners. With two races remaining on the '04 schedule, Schumacher is now aiming for the Top Fuel season win record of nine, held jointly by Gary Scelzi (2000) and Larry Dixon (2002).
"Fantastic weekend," said team owner Don Schumacher, who also clenched the 2004 NHRA Top Fuel Title on Saturday. "How can you have any better of a weekend than having a trifecta?"
Schumacher credited the people in his organization (which became a multi-car team in 2001) with his success. "That's really been my key to success," he said. "Getting great people to do a great, great job out there. I'm just fortunate to surround myself with great people, and they're the ones doing the job."
As for the first Don Schumacher Racing three-class sweep, Schumacher said, "Actually, last year at the fall race in Las Vegas I had three vehicles in the final then and none of them won. We had three in the final earlier this year and one car won. You don't set a timetable for something as phenomenal as this. You just hope it happens one day, and I'm just excited to say that it happened at Maple Grove."
Next up: NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, Nev. Oct. 29--31 for the penultimate round of the 2004 NHRA season.
"I actually thought the motor revved so high it was going to blow up, and
I think it did right toward the finish line. We didn't want to be stupid,
just in case he smoked the tires. Then you don't look so smart if you
smoke them sooner or harder. We raced smart today."
--Gary Scelzi discussing his win at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.
Johnson beats Coughlin at Maple Grove Raceway
The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series returned to Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. this weekend for the Hurricane-Ivan-postponed NHRA Nationals. The track, long considered one of the better quarter-miles on the circuit because of the high oxygen content in the air and its potential to produce record runs, saw Mopars rip it up with Larry Morgan qualifying his Mopar Dodge Stratus from Larry Morgan Racing sixth (6.710/205.29) and Allen Johnson qualifying his Mopar Dodge Stratus from Johnson and Johnson Racing eighth (6.717/204.08). Morgan, however, lost in the first round to Rickie Smith. Johnson won against Jeg Coughlin in the first round; lost to Greg Anderson in the second.
The series travels to Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 29--31 for the penultimate round of the 2004 NHRA season.
Francis powers his way to a second-place finish
Steve Francis drove the No. 15 machine to a second place finish at the Fulton Speedway Saturday night to keep the World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship within the team's grasp. Francis is currently second in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series point standings, only nine points behind leader Steve Bloomquist. With only two races remaining in the 2004 season, the showdown for the title is slated to take place October 29--30 at the Delta Bowl Speedway in Tunica, Miss.
If Francis can overcome the slight point deficit to take the title, he will become the first World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion. The 2004 season was the series' inaugural outing, as Boundless Motorsports Racing took over the series at the start of this season.
Stay tuned to Mopar Speed for the latest developments on Francis' race to the championship and news on the other championship teams in the Mopar stable.
A third-place finish for Lasoski at Tri-City Speedway
Danny Lasoski and the No. 20 team wrapped up a weekend in the Midwest with a third-place finish at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill., on Saturday night. Lasoski drove the Mopar-powered No. 20 from Tony Stewart Motorsports through the field to overtake Joey Saldana for third position on lap 19 of the 30-lap, A-main event. The No. 20 team maintained a second place standing in the World of Outlaws Series points chase with their efforts at the half-mile facility. The team bounced back from Friday's 16th-place, A-main finish at the Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., to regain its momentum.
Tim Shaffer drove the Mopar-powered No. 6 Casey's General Store machine to an 18th-place finish at Tri-State Speedway on Friday, then improved his finishing position on Saturday at Tri-City Speedway, racing to capture a fifth from a starting position of 22nd.
The World of Outlaws Series moves on to the State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City, Okla., on October 15 and the Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas, on October 16.
This week's racing action: the Mopar Sprint Car Nationals
Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises will resume action this week, as Jay Drake, Cory Kruseman, and Josh Wise compete for The Mopar Sprint Car Nationals title. The Mopar Sprint Car Nationals are slated to take place at the Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 13. Drake will lead the USAC National Sprint Car Series points into the event, with Kruseman and Wise following in the third and tenth positions. NASCAR's J.J. Yeley will rejoin Team Mopar, as he is slated to drive the No. 75 Gary Stanton owned Mopar machine.
The Mopar Sprint Car Nationals will feature the wingless warriors of the USAC National Sprint Car Series and the stars of the Southern All-Star Late Model Series. The event will pay a $5,000 purse for the winner of the 30-lap USAC feature event. The Mopar Sprint Car Nationals marks the second appearance by the series at the 4/10-mile oval. Last season's inaugural event boasted both a strong field of competitors and heavy fan attendance.
The Mopar Sprint Car Nationals will kick off NASCAR's UAW-GM 500 weekend, which includes Bojangles' Pole Night for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and the Charlotte ASA Inaugural events on October 14. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 NASCAR Busch Series race will run on October 15; the UAW-GM 500, featuring the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series stars, will wrap up the weekend on October 16. The Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises team will also compete at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Ga., on October 16.
J.J. Yeley rejoins Team Mopar this week for the Mopar Sprint Car Nationals.
Musgrave chases the championship to Texas
"We're taking the chase for the championship one race at a time. Winning
races is important, but when you're chipping away at the points lead,
consistency is the key. As a team, we're going to make every effort to
keep the Ultra Motorsports Mopar Dodge Ram in a position to earn this
championship. Winning the title is still very doable for this team, and
we really feel like luck is starting to swing our way."
--Ted Musgrave, who is keeping his eye on winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship.
Ted Musgrave and the No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram team will head to the Texas Motor Speedway this week for round 21 of 25 in the chase for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship. Musgrave, who has battled his way into fourth position in the series' point standings, is only 150 points behind leader Bobby Hamilton as they gear up for the next race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram team narrowly missed winning its first race at the facility on June 11, as a loose wheel delegated Musgrave to a second-place finish. Leading on four separate occasions during the spring race, Musgrave led a total of 101 laps. At one point, he had built a seven-second lead over the field.
In his fourth season of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition, Musgrave has recorded three top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes at the Texas Motor Speedway. The team finished second in the O'Reilly 400 on June 11, and will look to win their first race at the facility this weekend.
The next NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race will air live from the Texas Motor Speedway on October 16 at 2 p.m. EST on Speed Channel. Live coverage of the event can also be heard on the Motor Racing Network beginning at 1:30 p.m. EST.