IT'S STILL ANYBODY'S CHAMPIONSHIP, AS SCELZI AND LEADER HIGHT GO OUT IN FIRST ROUND IN BRAINERD BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 14, 2005) - The chase for the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship is even tighter than it's been in...
IT'S STILL ANYBODY'S CHAMPIONSHIP, AS SCELZI AND LEADER HIGHT GO OUT IN FIRST ROUND IN BRAINERD
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 14, 2005) - The chase for the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship is even tighter than it's been in the last few races, and you'd think nobody wanted to win it, as points leader Robert Hight and second-place Gary Scelzi were ousted in the opening round today at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
No. 5 qualifier Scelzi wasn't able to take advantage of Hight's early exit, as he also lost his round six pairs later to Tony Bartone when he smoked the tires late in the run. Bartone dropped a cylinder at the hit in the right lane, which had undergone a 40-minute clean-up following a major Top Fuel oildown, yet still managed to take the win with a 4.957/315.93 to Scelzi's losing 5.268/236.84.
"We had the opportunity, and it just didn't happen," said the disappointed driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car who is seeking his first Funny Car crown to go with his three Top Fuel championships. "We have some problem that has developed here. We're not sure what exactly that is. We struggled in qualifying and I'm having trouble keeping the car in the groove. So, we're going to make a decision on what we're going to do for Memphis, but we're going to make some kind of major change."
Eric Medlen went on to win the event today against his boss John Force, so the points have tightened up even more, and Scelzi holds on to second place, and has gained on leader Robert Hight by out-qualifying him. Scelzi is just 14 points short of first place, and now eight points ahead of Force, while his teammate Ron Capps is 31 points back in fourth after his semifinal finish today.
"We picked up a couple of points on Robert and we're still in the horse race," said Scelzi.
Scelzi walked off with another speed track record today, 328.70 mph - the 19th time he has set top speed since joining the Funny Car class in 2002.
Next up is the O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals in Memphis, Tenn., Aug. 19-21.