Phoenix Saturday Summary

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Gary Scelzi earned his first number one qualifying position of the season and the 19th of his career Saturday at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway. Scelzi, from Fresno, Calif., sped down the...

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Gary Scelzi earned his first number one qualifying position of the season and the 19th of his career Saturday at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway. Scelzi, from Fresno, Calif., sped down the quarter-mile in his Team Winston dragster in 4.579 seconds at 317.05 mph to set the pace for the category. Scelzi continues his impressive run to kick off the 2000 season. His 4.57 pass was the first under 4.6 seconds since the new fuel rules implemented by the NHRA limiting the amount of nitro to 90 percent. Scelzi will face Robert Reehl in the first round of eliminations. "You can't really back down even though you might have a lesser opponent in the first round," said Scelzi. "Tomorrow morning we say our prayers cross our fingers and throw the same thing at it we've been throwing at it all day. Hopefully if I do my job and the car does its job I'll be (the winner) tomorrow night. That's what I'm hoping. If you get past the first round at any time anything can go wrong." Ron Capps and Kurt Johnson were also number one qualifiers in their respective categories at the $1.5 million race, the second of 24 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Capps, from San Diego, earned the Funny Car number one qualifying spot when he covered the distance in 4.858 at 305.42 in his U.S. Tobacco Chevrolet Camaro. "I got my hands on the chute at 800 feet," said Capps. "The tires just spun, and it went sideways a couple of sashays. I was trying to keep it straight and keep my hands on the chute. It was a heck of a ride." After finishing second in the NHRA Winston points standings in 1998, Capps finished a disappointing ninth in 1999. "I'm just leery," said Capps. I just want to go rounds tomorrow. It's nice that I happened to be number one, but going rounds is what's important. The guys out there are serious and that's what I like to see. Capps qualified number one at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals to close out the 1999 season. Lawrenceville, Ga.'s, Kurt Johnson eclipsed the 200 mph barrier for the first time in the Pro Stock category at FIR. His pass of 6.890 at 200.38 earned him the number one qualifying position in his CA Delco Chevrolet Camaro. Johnson is going for his second straight victory at FIR. Johnson visited the winner's circle here last year when he defeated Troy Coughlin in the finale. "Any place where you can win and qualify number one is a good track. It's just a matter of getting adjusted and getting down the racetrack. It's taking the whole combination and adapting it to the track and being prepared when you get here. If you're not prepared when you get here you are not going to do well."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Troy Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Ron Capps , Gary Scelzi , Robert Reehl