Memphis: Gary Scelzi final summary

It's a Payback: Scelzi Defeated by Force on a Holeshot in Second Round MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 22, 2004) - Last week in Brainerd, Minn., Gary Scelzi defeated NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points leader John Force on a holeshot...

It's a Payback: Scelzi Defeated by Force on a Holeshot in Second Round

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 22, 2004) - Last week in Brainerd, Minn., Gary Scelzi defeated NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points leader John Force on a holeshot advantage in the semifinal. Today, No. 7 qualifier Force returned the favor by beating No. 2 qualifier Scelzi with a holeshot in the second round.

Scelzi left the gate with a .087 reaction time (.000 is perfect), Force with a .060. Neither driver made a perfect run down the quarter-mile, but Force held the edge from the get-go, besting Scelzi's 5.136/277.26 pass with a slower-but-winning 5.156/273.33. It was nearly a photo-finish at the stripe, with Force nosing out Scelzi's HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus by a .0071 margin of victory, or about three feet.

"The guy's a 12-time champion and he was up in the seat for that one," said a disappointed Scelzi, who holds on to second in points by 220 behind Force, who won today's event. "I had an .087 light, which is not a bad light. He had an .060 and we got our ass kicked.

"It's unfortunate. We needed that one," said Scelzi of his chances to win his first Funny Car championship. "That was big and we didn't get it. "

Bob Gilbertson was Scelzi's victim in the first round of eliminations today. "The HEMI Oakley Dodge is running as good as anybody's," added Scelzi. "In the first round those were the two quickest runs, ours (4.996/298.14) and Force's (4.994/300.93), and it's going to go back and forth on who's the quickest. It's just that we're behind. That doesn't help when you're trying to win a POWERade championship. But that doesn't make us want to pack up our gear and go home, either. We have a car that's as good as anybody's, Force's included.

"Force is a 12-time champion because he rises to the occasion, and he's a great driver," added the Fresno native. "He may have screwed up a couple of times this year, but that guy is deadly, and I've said it all along. We've made a big game about us beating him more than he's beaten us (6-5 after today), but that guy is deadly. He demands respect and I'm not going to race him any lighter. There's no question about that. They're good."

Next up is the prestigious 50th Annual U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Sept. 1-6.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Gilbertson , John Force , Gary Scelzi