Mopar Speed Monday, November 1, 2004 NHRA FC Scelzi wins another against Force It's becoming a habit for Gary Scelzi to beat John Force this year and it has nothing to do with the nun's outfit he wore this weekend for an ESPN2 piece on ...
Monday, November 1, 2004
Scelzi wins another against Force
It's becoming a habit for Gary Scelzi to beat John Force this year and it has nothing to do with the nun's outfit he wore this weekend for an ESPN2 piece on Halloween. Scelzi defeated Force, who still clinched the 2004 crown on Sunday, in the second consecutive final round.
Scelzi drove his Hemi-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car to his sixth final round of the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and won his third event of the year, fourth of his career, first at The Strip at Las Vegas in any category, and added to his round win-loss record against Force, making it 9-5.
With this win, Scelzi moves into second place in Funny Car points and is tied with Del Worsham, whom Scelzi defeated in the semifinal round on Sunday.
To get to the final round, Scelzi disposed of Tommy Johnson Jr. in the first round with a 4.809/319.75, Cruz Pedregon with a 4.770/325.45 in the second, and Worsham with another strong pass of 4.794/324.05 in the semifinal, before he faced his longtime friend in the final.
Scelzi's reaction times throughout the day were average: .095, .101 and .088 (.000 is perfect) until the final, when he shot off with a .020 reaction time to Force's .081. That was all she wrote, as the three-time Top Fuel champion in only his second full year of Funny Car competition nailed the win on a holeshot advantage with a 4.790/326.32 pass to Force's quicker but losing 4.754/322.81.
"Let me tell you," Scelzi said in the winner's circle, "Every time you race John and [crew chief Austin] Coil and those guys over there, your back's against the wall. And you have to cheat them now and then. I didn't mean to take that big a chunk on the starting line. I turned on that top light, and I said, 'Oh, man, here we go, baby.'
"I love racing the man. You can't help but just get pumped up to race him, because those guys are probably the greatest team that's ever been in drag racing—and maybe even in all of motorsports."
Following this event, the battle for second place in the Funny Car championship is between Worsham and Scelzi, with one event remaining. "Finishing second means more to my guys, I think," added three-time Top Fuel champion Scelzi. "There's a pretty big bonus for second compared to third. And I really want to see them get it. To me second is great, but once you've won those gold rings, second doesn't do you any justice. And that's just going to make us work harder next year."
While diminutive ghouls and goblins were trick or treating through the pits during the races at The Strip at Las Vegas, Whit Bazemore was dealing with his own demons on the quarter-mile in the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus.
Following a stout qualifying effort of four consistently quick rounds topped off by a 4.772/326.95, which placed him fourth on the grid in the final qualifying session, Bazemore's first round contest against Cruz Pedregon produced another set of strong numbers: 4.820 seconds at 324.36 mph under sunny skies. Unfortunately, his opponent stole what should have been a win for Bazemore on a holeshot advantage, with a slower yet victorious 4.839/320.05.
Johnny Gray put Don Schumacher's Wonder Wagon Dodge Stratus through its paces in a close race against No. 6 qualifier Tony Pedregon.
No. 11 qualifier Gray launched first off the starting line with a .094 reaction time to Pedregon's .111, but it was Pedregon all the way to the finish, taking the win by .0502 of a second with a 4.892/321.12 pass to Gray's 4.825-second lap at a faster speed of 323.43 mph.
Next up is the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway, Nov. 11-14.
Kruseman wins; Drake clinches the series championship
Cory Kruseman won his second straight Budweiser Oval Nationals at the Perris Auto Speedway on Saturday night. "The Kruser" picked up a fast-time award, a heat-race win and three top-five finishes en route to winning the $30,000 purse for Saturday's victory. Kruseman qualified first and raced to a third-place finish on the first night of the three-day event. After qualifying second and winning the second heat race on Friday night, the No. 21 team took the checkered flag in second place. Kruseman then led the final lap on Saturday to take the win. He also moved into second place in the USAC National Sprint Car Series points chase behind teammate Jay Drake.
The No. 20 team and Drake also had cause to celebrate, as they wrapped up the 2004 USAC National Sprint Car Series championship over the weekend. Drake needed to finish 69 points ahead of second place to take the title. After posting a 15th place finish in Thursday night's preliminary feature and a sixth place finish on Friday, Drake drove to a 15th place finish in Saturday's finale. This championship marks Drake's first USAC National title. It is the second straight USAC National Sprint Car Series title for Team Mopar.
As the No. 20 and No. 21 teams head to the Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz., November 4 — 6 for the USAC National Sprint Car Series season finale, Drake leads the series with 1,573 points and Kruseman sits in second position with 1,501. The event will also mark Kruseman's last race with Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises, as the veteran will leave the team at the end of the season.
Lasoski pulls double duty to race in two separate series
Danny Lasoski pulled double duty over the weekend, making the commute from Atlanta, Ga. to Tulare, Calif., twice in as many days to compete in the IROC Series and the World of Outlaws Series. After practicing for the IROC event in Atlanta on Thursday, "The Dude" flew to California for the World of Outlaws Series preliminary event. After qualifying 18th, Lasoski picked up a 15th place A-main event finish.
On Saturday, Lasoski finished third in the IROC Series finale before flying back to California. After taking a provisional starting position, the Mopar-powered No. 20 from Tony Stewart Motorsports started the race in 25th position. Lasoski raced his way to an impressive fourth place finish in the A-main feature event.
Lasoski and the No. 20 team will wrap up the 2004 season this week at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas on November 5 — 6.
Francis finishes second in the series
Steve Francis earned runner-up honors in the inaugural World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship; marking his 11th consecutive top-five finish in a late model racing series. Francis finished his season in style, setting quick time, winning a heat race and a dash event en route to a third-place finish at Delta Bowl Speedway on Friday. The No. 15 Mopar took the checkered flag in second place in Saturday night's finale.
After competing in his final scheduled event of the season on November 5 - 7 at the East Alabama Speedway, in Phenix City, Ala., Francis will compete as part of Team USA in Australia during the month of December.
"I would like to thank all the fans, media, and especially, Mopar ... and Moring Motorsports for all their support this season. We had a good season, and we are looking forward to next season and competing for another championship."
Johnson advances to semis in Las Vegas
Allen Johnson made an impressive run in the Mopar Dodge Stratus from Johnson and Johnson Racing, posting victories over Steve Johns and Fernando Cuadra on his way to claiming a spot in the semifinals of the Pro Stock division at the NHRA Nationals.
Johnson posted an ET of 6.865 and a speed of 200.56 mph in his elimination round victory over Cuadra. Lady Luck didn't shine in his favor in the semis, however, as Jason Line took the victory by a mere 17 feet at the finish line.
The series finishes up next week with the 40th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif.
Musgrave looks to advance in the point standings
After a weekend off, Ted Musgrave and the No. 1 Ultra Motorsports team will return to action November 5 at Phoenix International Raceway. Musgrave is currently in third position in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points chase, only 91 points behind first-place Dennis Setzer. With only three races remaining in the 2004 season, this week marks the 15th consecutive week Musgrave has been in the top-10 in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points.
In 2003, Musgrave set a new track record at Phoenix International Raceway, turning a lap of 129.427 mph around the one-mile oval last fall. He went on to drive to a second-place finish during that event.
Live coverage of the Phoenix race is set to begin at 5:15 p.m. EST on the Motor Racing Network. The live broadcast of the event will air on Speed Channel at 5:30 p.m. EST.