Brainerd: Gary Scelzi eliminations summary

Scelzi's sizzle fizzles in second round at Brainerd BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 17, 2003) - No. 1 qualifier and event top-speed holder (311.90 mph) Gary Scelzi was expected to win the first round of Funny Car eliminations at the Lucas Oil NHRA...

Scelzi's sizzle fizzles in second round at Brainerd

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 17, 2003) - No. 1 qualifier and event top-speed holder (311.90 mph) Gary Scelzi was expected to win the first round of Funny Car eliminations at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway today, and he did. But it was a lucky break that got him first to the finish line, as both he and Phil Burkart Jr. smoked their tires and shut their cars off at about 1000 feet and Scelzi was able to coast his Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus first across the stripe with a 5.693/178.33 pass to Burkart's 5.806/169.70.

Scelzi then faced Funny Car points leader Tony Pedregon in the second round without lane choice and had the opportunity to not only advance himself to the semifinals en route to a potential second win in two races, but also to help his teammate Whit Bazemore in the Funny Car championship by eliminating Pedregon.

It was not to be as Scelzi's 5.074/300.53 lap was no match for Pedregon's winning 4.959/301.87 in the steamy 90-degree Minnesota heat.

"We weren't going to run a .95," Scelzi responded to the loss. "We didn't have the car set up to run a .95 in either lane.

"We've got a lot of tools on this car," Scelzi added. "Some of them are to help reaction times, some of them are to do different things. We've been trying to keep the car calm and obviously it worked. We were No. 1 qualifier. But my reaction times suffered. So we changed the car around first round to help my reaction times and the motor got a little ahead of itself and smoked the tires. We got very lucky first round. A lot of times when you win a national event you have a lucky round somewhere along the line that maybe you shouldn't have won, and that one would've been it."

"Then we came back and calmed things down and raced Tony Pedregon and we just got pummeled. They ran a 4.95 in the heat of the day. That's pretty darned impressive. Unfortunately, I watched the whole thing from where I was sitting."

Next up is an NHRA-sponsored testing session on Tuesday and Wednesday at Indianapolis Raceway Park before the U.S. Nationals at that facility on Labor Day weekend, which gives the Oakley Time Bomb team another chance to work on its weaker areas. "We're gong to go to Indy, we're going to test and we're going to go back and put the Alan Johnson clutch in that we tried in Chicago last week, which makes our car snap and run a little better," said the three-time Top Fuel champion in his first full season of Funny Car competition. "It's just a little aggressive on hot, slippery race tracks. That's why we didn't run it here. So, we'll go to Indy and hopefully it will be hot and slippery so we can start getting two days' worth of runs on it. And if it shows promise we will run it at the U.S. Nationals.

"If we don't, we'll get through Indy with what we've got. Obviously it works. And well go to Reading (Pa., Sept. 12-14) with Alan's clutch in the car. That's pretty much where we're at right now."

Scelzi holds on to eighth place in the POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings, with 776 points.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Phil Burkart