Baytown: Gary Scelzi eliminations summary

Scelzi ousted in first-round match-up with teammate Bazemore. HOUSTON (April 13, 2003) -- It's always a bummer on a three-car NHRA Funny Car team when you have to face your teammate in the first round of eliminations. This year Scotty Cannon had...

Scelzi ousted in first-round match-up with teammate Bazemore.

HOUSTON (April 13, 2003) -- It's always a bummer on a three-car NHRA Funny Car team when you have to face your teammate in the first round of eliminations. This year Scotty Cannon had to do it twice against his Schumacher Racing partner Whit Bazemore, and he lost both times.

Today, at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, it was Gary Scelzi, in the Oakley Time Bomb Funny Car, paired against Bazemore in the first round for the first time this season. They had only met once before; it was here in Houston in 2002, when Bazemore beat Scelzi in the second round.

Scelzi had the edge at the starting lights by a full tenth of a second and was ahead at 330 feet, until he encountered the bumps in the right lane which caused the car to lose balance, drop cylinders and smoke the tires. Bazemore went around him to win with his own smoking run of 5.098/283.85.

"It's always unfortunate," said Scelzi, the three-time Top Fuel champion. "We got behind in qualifying. We made changes to race Whit and we did race him. The car was running fine and then it hit the bumps, started to unload to car and started putting cylinders out and then it smoked the tires. I pedaled it, got back on it and then Whit went by and I shut it off. One of the parachutes had sheared a pin and it fell out and it cocked the whole parachute pack."

Scelzi was vocal about the track conditions here. "It's tough. This track definitely needs a facelift. It needs some lighting and it needs to be repaved. Hopefully, NHRA will do the right thing and get this thing handled so we can have some good, close racing for the fans, because that's who pays the bills for everybody. We're going to test tomorrow and try some things and see if we can get down a bumpy race track in case we end up with some more of these. I know there are some more out there."

Racing your teammate is never easy. "Whit has been very good to me since I came to this team," added Scelzi. He's given me a lot of help driving. We race hard; there's bragging rights at stake and both teams get along very well. So, it's unfortunate we had to meet in the first round. But it's going to happen. It will probably happen a couple of more times this year and hopefully the results will be different. Either way, a Schumacher car is going into the second round and Lee's (Beard, Bazemore's crew chief) got a chance to work on his car. We'll help them in any way we can."

Bazemore made it into the semifinal, but lost to Tony Pedregon. Scelzi is now 11th in the POWERade Drag Racing Series point standings, with 200 points.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi