Brainerd: Scotty Cannon preview

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 14, 2003)- Scotty Cannon and his Oakley teammate Gary Scelzi tested at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., earlier this week, along with their other Funny Car teammate Whit Bazemore, and began an information-sharing program...

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 14, 2003)- Scotty Cannon and his Oakley teammate Gary Scelzi tested at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., earlier this week, along with their other Funny Car teammate Whit Bazemore, and began an information-sharing program which Cannon hopes will turn his struggling team around for the rest of the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season.

Although Cannon has qualified for every race and even defeated Funny Car points leader Tony Pedregon in the first round in Denver, he's only advanced to the second round three times. He has spent the first half of the season getting his new team to jell, and now that he has taken on crew chief duties (or 'making the last call' as he likes to put it), he's determined to turn the team around by taking advantage of the Don Schumacher Racing brain trust of crew chiefs Mike Neff ("Zippy"), Lee Beard (Bazemore's crew chief) and Dan Olson (Scelzi's and Bazemore's co-crew chief).

"Zippy ran really good and so did Lee in Joliet," said the popular Mohawk-wearing racer. "We actually changed a lot of the stuff over on my car in the clutch department basically the way Zippy (Cannon's crew chief in 2002 and Scelzi's this season) runs his so we can share information. In doing so, the car went down the track good in testing, but it just didn't go fast."

The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals this weekend at Brainerd International Raceway will be a continuation of the Joliet test session."Basically, for me the rest of the year is going to be a test bed to see if I can get this thing straightened out or turned around, with the help of my teammates. It's good to have different people that I can bounce stuff off of," Cannon said.

"At Brainerd we're going to try to get it qualified and actually in every run including eliminations I will be trying something different or stuff that I think will turn it around and get it headed it in the right direction. I think we made some progress in the clutch department, for sure. We changed everything, from the clutch, all the timers, to the relays, just a lot of stuff.

"When I got that done, the car just didn't seem like it was making the power that it should," he added. "So now I'm in the engine compartment pretty hot and heavy. If I can get that straightened out then I think things will be just fine."

Teamwork is the key, Cannon agreed. "Basically, that way I see it now Todd (Blakeley) has got more responsibility on him than he's ever had. He's been great. Without him right now I couldn't do this; there is no possible way. And now we are sharing the information. Zippy has agreed to it, Dan's agreed to it, Beard's agreed to it.

"The only problem we have is that everything on our car is just so much different than theirs. The one good thing we did was to simplify the clutch system and to get it to where it was basically the same. We have done that. So now we're going to work on the engine to see if we can make it make power.

"I feel pretty good about it. I'm not frustrated. I'm working so hard, I'm staying up every night until 3 o'clock in the morning so I don't have much time on my hands to be thinking about the negative part of it. Everything is positive. I just have to look up and be optimistic that we can turn it around. That just makes the day a lot better."

-scr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Scotty Cannon , Don Schumacher , Mike Neff