SCELZI IS SEMIFINAL FINISHER AT GATEWAY MADISON, Ill. (June 25, 2006) - Gary Scelzi and the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team, who struggled early in the season, are coming on strong midway through the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing...
SCELZI IS SEMIFINAL FINISHER AT GATEWAY
MADISON, Ill. (June 25, 2006) - Gary Scelzi and the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team, who struggled early in the season, are coming on strong midway through the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. The reigning Funny Car champion snared his second semifinal finish in three events today (the other was a runner-up) at the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals and has a renewed confidence in his team's performance.
Scelzi advanced to the semis under hot and humid conditions at Gateway International Raceway by first defeating Cruz Pedregon with a solid 5.021-second elapsed time at 303.16 mph, then dismissed Robert Hight on a holeshot advantage in the second round, winning with a slower 4.938/311.63 pass.
Unfortunately, the four-time NHRA world champion washed out that holeshot win by losing on a holeshot to Tony Pedregon in the semifinal stanza. Scelzi posted a quicker 4.877/319.52, but lost to Pedregon's 4.886/317.57. Reaction times: .107 for Scelzi, .090 for Pedregon.
"The good news is we had two semifinals and a runner-up in the three-race swing, and we've been waiting for that for a long time," said Scelzi. "So, now that we have a car that we know that can win, we just have to wait for it to happen.
"For the problems we fought over in qualifying," added Scelzi, who qualified eighth, "to come into the first round, be the first pair, have the car run exactly what Mike wanted it to run - and we stepped it up each round - speaks volumes of Mike's (Neff, crew chief) confidence. And for the car to repeat and do what he wants it to do, is very encouraging. It's been able to do things at three different types of race tracks, three different types of conditions.
"We're there. We're absolutely there. If this was Pomona (first race of year) or three races into this thing, I'd feel really good about my chances to repeat (as champion), but we're not.
"But we're going to move up (in points); we're going to be just fine. It's doing what it's supposed to do. Now, if I could do what I'm supposed to do every run we'll be in good shape."
Scelzi is seventh in Funny Car point standings, just 101 points out of third place.
Next up is the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Denver, Colo., July 14-16, 2006.