SCELZI MASTERS BRISTOL BRISTOL, Tenn. (May 1, 2005) - There was no May Day signal coming from the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car camp today, only high-fives, hugs and kudos, as Gary Scelzi finally mastered Bristol Dragway, one of four pro...
SCELZI MASTERS BRISTOL
BRISTOL, Tenn. (May 1, 2005) - There was no May Day signal coming from the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car camp today, only high-fives, hugs and kudos, as Gary Scelzi finally mastered Bristol Dragway, one of four pro NHRA tracks at which he's not won in his illustrious NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series career. The only venues left are Denver (Colo.), Englishtown (N.J.) and Gainesville, Fla.
His win against Jeff Arend in the final round today marked his 30th career win, his fifth in Funny Car, and his first of the season, while setting a track record of 329.26 mph. Scelzi's 4.815/329.26 beat out Arend's 4.971/282.42.
The three-time Top Fuel champion, who is seeking his first Funny Car crown, moved into fourth in points, and trails his teammate and points leader Whit Bazemore by 63 points.
The Fresno, Calif., native blasted through the field with consistent 4-second runs, with the exception of his second-round victory against Tommy Johnson Jr. He won that one with a 5.134-second ET. He defeated Gary Densham with a 4.791 in the opening round and Jack Wyatt with a 4.818 in the semifinal.
"(Crew Chief) Mike Neff, a/k/a Zippy, was so focused today. Normally one of our guys gets the sheets that show incremental times and reaction times, etc. We look at those things to see if somebody's running quick in a certain area, so maybe we can run quick in that area.
"We weren't getting those sheets today and I told Mike I'd like to see those. He said I don't want to see them. He said I'm racing the race track today, I don't care who's parked next to me. I'm going to run that thing as hard as I can, just like we were racing Force in the final round every run.
"And Mike Neff was absolutely incredible today. He reminded me of (John Force's crew chief Austin) Coil, or Alan Johnson on the U.S. Army Top Fuel car, or Conrad Kalitta on the Kalitta Top Fuel cars.
"Arend's crew chief Paul Smith is pretty crafty and that car ran a 4.90 in the semifinal and I know he rolled it in against Cruz (Pedregon), so I know he probably really ran an .85. We knew they could run an .85. so, if we had any hiccup at all or if I had a bobble on the starting line or did anything wrong, it was their deal.
"When those guys get on a roll like that sometimes it just goes their way. Yeah, they don't make the steam we do, but when you've got that horseshoe riding with you sometimes you don't need the power. And sometimes, as this track showed today, power was an enemy.
"If I ever decide to pull the pin (and retire from drag racing), I want to have won at every venue that we've been at, and Bristol has always been a tough one for us. I don't think I've ever been past the semifinals and that was during the Winston Showdown days. To win this one is incredible. This place is one of the neatest state-of-the art places that we go to."
Next up is the NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga., May 13-15.