Las Vegas: Gary Scelzi final summary

Scelzi advances to second round in Vegas LAS VEGAS (April 4, 2004) - Gary Scelzi and his HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car continue to have a love-hate relationship this season after starting out strong in the Pomona, Calif., ...

Scelzi advances to second round in Vegas

LAS VEGAS (April 4, 2004) - Gary Scelzi and his HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car continue to have a love-hate relationship this season after starting out strong in the Pomona, Calif., season-opener, where he reached the semifinal round.

This weekend, at the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the team was poised to see improved results and was encouraged by a potent No. 4 qualifying effort.

In the first round of final eliminations, Scelzi pulled out an easy victory over Terry Haddock, besting him with a strong 4.837/322.04 lap to Haddock's 5.043/292.77. The second round proved to be Scelzi's downfall, however, as a mechanical problem cost him a chance to advance further in the field. Scelzi had the quicker reaction time (.079 to .086), but lost to eventual event winner Phil Burkart Jr. with a 6.652/138.10 to Burkart's 4.887/310.48.

The Fresno native is now sixth in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings, tied with Eric Medlen.

"We tried to pick it up a little early, and it did," said Scelzi. "The clutch bearing never moved, which never put a load on the motor, which made it drop cylinders, which made it completely slow down to nothing and I just shut it off. We don't know why it did that. We're looking at it and we'll see what happens."

Only two rounds of qualifying were held this weekend after rain cancelled the first day, and Scelzi posted a stellar 4.788-second pass in the first round. "It ran extremely well in qualifying the one run," he added, maintaining his belief in the strength of his HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge. "It's a race car that's going to do some amazing things," he said. "It's just that we don't have a piece of luck anywhere. I left first, the car was quicker, it was going to win the race, no doubt about it. It just didn't happen."

Round 5 coming up is the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway April 16-18.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Phil Burkart , Eric Medlen , Terry Haddock