Joliet: Gary Scelzi Saturday summary

Scelzi backs up first 330-mph run with a second 330-mph pass in JOLIET, Ill. (May 22, 2004) - Rocketman Gary Scelzi today backed up his 330.15-mph run from last night's qualifying session with an even faster pass of 330.55 mph to take the NHRA...

Scelzi backs up first 330-mph run with a second 330-mph pass in

JOLIET, Ill. (May 22, 2004) - Rocketman Gary Scelzi today backed up his 330.15-mph run from last night's qualifying session with an even faster pass of 330.55 mph to take the NHRA Funny Car national top-speed record - at least for the moment, as the record becomes official only once the event is over.

The driver of the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus qualified No. 3 today with a 4.732-second elapsed time, the quickest ET (and speed) of the day. The fourth, and final qualifying session, was cancelled because of rain.

"The speed is cool, but the coolest thing is the car has gotten down the race track three times in a row and it's done exactly what we wanted it to do, where we wanted it to do it," said Scelzi, the first Funny Car driver in NHRA history to break the 330-mph barrier. "Granted, this is not a hot, slippery race track, but the humidity is a big factor and we need to be careful.

"The clutch problems are not rearing their ugly head. Who knows what lies ahead? Right now we're extremely happy, we're pleased the car is doing everything it needs to do; it's driveable and it's fast. And it's really fast, which is a beautiful thing."

Crew chief Mike Neff was pleased with the qualifying results and the 330-mph pass. "It feels really good," he said. "That was the barrier that everybody was asking about. Do we think we can do it? When do you think it will be? Who do you think is going to be the first one? There's been a lot of talk about it. To finally do it, to be the first one, feels really good and it's good to get that over with."

Surprisingly, Neff did not expect the speed to fall last night. "I knew that we could do it if everything was right. Our car just hadn't been running really good speed here the last couple of races, so I wasn't really that optimistic about it doing it last night. We definitely wicked it up and we definitely were trying to. Fortunately, it just ran clean and had enough power to do it. It was a great feeling."

Tony Pedregon's even faster 331.28-second run last night, which followed Scelzi's, impressed Neff. "That was a great run," he said. "Those guys have been running really well and my hat's off to them. That was a very impressive run. It would have bummed me out if they had done it in front of us, but the fact that we were able to be the first ones to do it and even to run 330 mph was terrific. There are only two people who can say they've run over 330 mph in a Funny Car. So, to be one of them is an honor."

Dan Olson was crew chief on Tony Schumacher's Top Fuel Dragster when he broke the 330-mph barrier in Top Fuel and is now co-crew chief on Gary Scelzi's and Whit Bazemore's cars. He's a happy man as well. "I feel good for the crew and the guys who have been working real hard this year," said Olson. "We've been trying a lot of things and it finally looks like we have something that works, something we can race with and all that hard work has paid off for the guys. I'm really happy for them and Zippy (Neff)."

Scelzi will meet Tony Bartone in first round of eliminations tomorrow, which begin at 11 a.m.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Whit Bazemore , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Mike Neff