Scelzi Goes to Final Round, Loses to Teammate Bazemore COMMERCE, Ga. (May 16, 2004) - Gary Scelzi marched his HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus handily through the Funny Car field today at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals to...
Scelzi Goes to Final Round, Loses to Teammate Bazemore
COMMERCE, Ga. (May 16, 2004) - Gary Scelzi marched his HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus handily through the Funny Car field today at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals to reach the final round for the first time this season and the third time in his Funny Car career. The final round was a dream for team owner Don Schumacher, as teammates Scelzi and Whit Bazemore came head-to-head in their first meeting.
The tensions were high among the team members, as Scelzi launched a tick ahead of Bazemore, with a .073 reaction time to Bazemore's .075. Unfortunately for Scelzi, however, he lost traction immediately at the hit of the throttle and Bazemore cruised to the victory with a 5.025/299.80 to Scelzi's 10.847/90.59.
Scelzi moves into fifth in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings, however, and is now just 97 points behind points leader Del Worsham.
"It smoked the tires at the hit," said a disappointed Scelzi. "You don't even have a chance. You just beat yourself. It's unfortunate. I don't know what happened.
"It was still a great day. When you get to the final round, it's a good thing, even if you get beat. But I'd just like to run side by side with somebody if that's what's going to happen, but that's not what happened. It's unfortunate. It wasn't a planned deal, obviously. Something either malfunctioned or we missed on the tune-up. It was just one of those things."
Crew chief Mike Neff was stoic. "It looks like the clutch was really aggressive. It got hot. We were up there running for a lot longer than we normally do. And for whatever reason it was just really aggressive when he stepped on the gas and it smoked the tires. We tried backing it down from the prior runs today just to be safe, to make sure we got off the starting line, because I didn't feel the left lane was quite as good as the right lane. But for whatever reason we just had a hiccup in the clutch and it was just too aggressive and came loose.
"It's a good day for us and we're really encouraged with the progress that we've been making here lately. We've made an awful lot of changes to this thing and now we've picked a combination that we're going to stick with and try to make work. We don't have that many runs with it but we're learning every time it goes down the track and we're getting down the track a lot more than we have and we're starting to get more confidence in what we're doing here and in our car and I think it'll just keep getting better. Any time you can go to the final round it's like finishing second, so we have nothing to hang our heads about."