SCELZI SHAKES OFF POMONA MISCUE, IS READY TO ROLL IN PHOENIX CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 22, 2005) - There's no more telling direction to receive from your crew chief than the words, "Shake off that first round deal, because it ain't no big thing....
SCELZI SHAKES OFF POMONA MISCUE, IS READY TO ROLL IN PHOENIX
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 22, 2005) - There's no more telling direction to receive from your crew chief than the words, "Shake off that first round deal, because it ain't no big thing. We're going to get them now." So said tuner Mike Neff to Gary Scelzi this week as the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Funny Car team regrouped following Scelzi's loss in the first round of the season-opening 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event at Pomona Raceway two weeks ago.
"I need to redeem myself," laughed Scelzi, who set his career-best Funny Car ET of 4.717 seconds in that round, and his overall career fastest speed of 331.35 mph, while losing on a holeshot because of his .154 reaction time. "Redemption is just five days away."
In that run Scelzi established the fourth fastest Funny Car speed in NHRA history, and it was the 11th time since he joined Don Schumacher Racing full-time in the Funny Car class in 2003 that he set top speed in that class. There's no doubt that the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Funny Car's reputation as a rocket ship still stands.
So what's the plan for this weekend's Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals, besides redemption? "We're going to go get this thing in the show in the first run, try for the pole Friday night and try to win the race - same game plan as usual," said Scelzi, whose last win at this track was in Top Fuel in 1997.
January testing on Firebird Raceway's quarter-mile provided a benchmark for the team. "It should help," said Scelzi. "The Mopar/Oakley Dodge ran early-shut-off 4.75s numerous times, so we should have a very good combination. Chad Head of NHRA prepared the track for testing, and Chad Head will prepare the track for NHRA this weekend, so it should be in great shape.
"The weather should be good. I'm ready. As far as I'm concerned, we can run every one of the 22 remaining races back-to-back.
"Everything looks good. I talked to Zippy (Neff), and I asked, 'so the car will be able to repeat with this combination that we've got, because the car did not shake at all in Pomona, right?' And he had a big grin on his face and said, 'we're exactly where we need to be right now.'
"We're ready to roll."