SCELZI IN AGONIZINGLY TIGHT FUNNY CAR BATTLE MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 18, 2005) - It's agonizing. Several races ago, Gary Scelzi was talking about how he wasn't able to capitalize on John Force's early-round exits to move into the lead of the NHRA...
SCELZI IN AGONIZINGLY TIGHT FUNNY CAR BATTLE
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 18, 2005) - It's agonizing. Several races ago, Gary Scelzi was talking about how he wasn't able to capitalize on John Force's early-round exits to move into the lead of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings. Today, he's tortured by the fact that he can't capitalize on Force's teammate rookie Robert Hight's miscues.
Seemingly forever mired in second or third place since the Columbus, Ohio, race in May (eight races ago), the driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car, which has set 19 top speeds since 2003 (and holds the record at 322.42 mph at Memphis Motorsports Park), is understandably a little frustrated after losing the first round last week in Brainerd, Minn., when points leader Hight did the same.
Scelzi did gain two points on Hight by out-qualifying him and is now just 14 points out of the lead.
Consequently, the drivers behind Hight and Scelzi (one, two in points), John Force and Ron Capps (three and four) have taken advantage (Force reaching the finals, Capps the semis) and now the four drivers are within one to three round wins of either maintaining the top spot, taking it over, or falling back in a big way. It's an exciting time.
With only seven races remaining in the season, it's anybody's championship and the pressure is on. This weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park, the prelude to the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend, should be a barnburner.
And Scelzi, a Fresno, Calif., native, says he's still not ready to talk about a potential Funny Car crown to go with his three Top Fuel championships. "I'm not talking about nothing," he laughed. "To me there's nothing to talk about. I'm in the hunt, and that's great. We should have capitalized on a lot of these things. Either I screwed up or the car screwed up, or both. It's just frustrating as hell, so I really don't want to get worked up over it."
He'll talk about the Memphis track, however: "It's at night; hopefully they put some lighting in so we can see where we're going. I'm not crazy about having the first round of eliminations at 3 o'clock in the afternoon when we qualify after 4 in the evening, but we'll just see what happens."