Scelzi quick in heat of day, snags No. 7 in Gateway qualifying (NHRA) MADISON, Ill. (June 28, 2003) - In the heat of the day in the third round of qualifying today at Gateway International Raceway for the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals, Gary ...
Scelzi quick in heat of day, snags No. 7 in Gateway qualifying (NHRA)
MADISON, Ill. (June 28, 2003) - In the heat of the day in the third round of qualifying today at Gateway International Raceway for the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals, Gary Scelzi's Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus R/T was the quickest of the round, with a 4.963-second elapsed time at 302.82 mph. In the fourth and final round under the moonlight, he smoked the tires at half-track, but he and the team were not disappointed. Based on his run in the second round of qualifying yesterday, a 4.913/316.01, Scelzi ended up No. 7.
"It was kind of planned, to see where we could go and where we couldn't go," he said. "And we went down the track three out of four times with a completely different combination in the heat, and we were quick of the round. That speaks volumes. I'm just going to say it's a hint of the things to come. We've got a few of the things that (Tony Schumacher's Top Fuel Dragster crew chief) Alan Johnson is helping us work on. We won't have it all until Denver, and if we have to take a couple of steps back we're gonna. But that was pretty impressive to be low e.t. of the round in the heat of the day, just like first round's going to be tomorrow. We feel good about it."
Sunday's first round of final eliminations will begin at 4:30 p.m., with the Funny Cars taking to the track at 5:30 or so, and Scelzi will face John Force in the first round.
"Who knows what's going to happen tomorrow," he added. "We don't know. But no matter what happens - first round, second round, win the race, whatever - we've got a direction; we have some new things that we're excited about trying, and if that's any indication, we're going to make some racket, and that's a beautiful thing. It's made me excited. If you listen to my interviews, it's got a little life back into me. The Oakley Dodge is starting to do what Mike (Neff, crew chief) wants it to do. We may be a little bit off base, but it's given us some light."
Scelzi's former crew chief Alan Johnson, who joined Tony Schumacher's team in Joliet, has been helping Scelzi's team this weekend. "It's great," Scelzi commented. "Look what he did to the Army car. He turned it around right away. And he's incorporated a little bit of that in what we have already. Obviously we've got a big speed car (Scelzi holds the national speed record of 328.06 mph). It's a little slow early and Alan is trying to help us a little bit and pick up those numbers early. It's a direction. Whether it works or not, we don't know. But it's something new, it's something exciting. It's got Zippy (Neff) excited, it's got me excited, the guys are looking forward to it. If we can get this car to pick up a couple of hundredths at 60 feet we know what to do the rest of the way and it could be very interesting. We could make people's breakfasts a little lumpy."
Sharing this newfound data with his teammate Whit Bazemore is another story. "We'll share it," said Scelzi. "But right now Whit is second in the POWERade Funny Car championship. We don't want to mess with what (Bazemore's crew chief) Lee Beard's got going. We're going to try it on mine because I'm ninth in points, and we'd like to go beat to a different drum a little bit. And it if works we can just put it on Whit's and it's already proven, hopefully."