SCELZI BREAKS TRACK RECORD, QUALIFIES NO. 7 AT U.S. NATIONALS CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 3, 2006) - Gary Scelzi set the Funny Car track speed record at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis right out of the box in the first round of qualifying for...
SCELZI BREAKS TRACK RECORD, QUALIFIES NO. 7 AT U.S. NATIONALS
CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 3, 2006) - Gary Scelzi set the Funny Car track speed record at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis right out of the box in the first round of qualifying for the prestigious U.S. Nationals. In the single qualifying round Friday night Scelzi recorded his 24th top speed in that class while posting a 330.31-mph run in his quickest pass of the weekend of 4.735 seconds. That elapsed time held through the next four sessions, landing the reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion solidly in seventh place.
He did it again in the third qualifying round, running to the finish line at 330.23 mph on a 4.761-second pass. But, it wasn't all roses for the driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T in the rest of his qualifying attempts, despite a strong 4.846/318.84 in round two. His final two tries resulted in a tire-smoking 9.373/85.93 (first round of the Skoal Showdown) and a similar 9.476/86.14 in the fifth round.
Scelzi faces Phil Burkart Jr. in first round of eliminations on Monday. The 16-car field is the quickest in NHRA Funny Car history.
"It's a marathon," he said of this weekend's five qualifying rounds instead of the usual four. "We're fighting a gremlin in the bell housing and we just can't get the car to run early. It runs 330 mph at will, but we just can't get it over that hump. We made a pretty big change in the last round and it looked like it was better, but it didn't make it.
"We can always go back to the setup we had in the first session, but we're trying to get better. We're trying to be in the top two or three of these guys. We're not settling for just barely being in the top half, or to be one of the middle-of-the-packers. That's not our style. We're trying to go further.
"We'll find it. We know we have our finger on it, but we're just not sure which way to move it."
In today's Skoal Showdown, Scelzi lost the opening round to Tommy Johnson Jr., when the car lost traction. Scelzi coasted to a 9.373-second lap at 85.93 mph, while Johnson claimed the victory with a 4.750/324.36. "It just went out there and shook the tires and smoked them," said Scelzi. "It's a disappointment. We thought we had a shot at that $100,000 and we hadn't smoked the tires all weekend. It's just unfortunate. Stuff happens."