SCELZI WINS IN POMONA POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 11, 2007) - After a two-hour rain delay before the start, some intermittent showers delaying the completion of eliminations, and a thrash to repair his car that landed in the sand pit at the...
SCELZI WINS IN POMONA
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 11, 2007) - After a two-hour rain delay before the start, some intermittent showers delaying the completion of eliminations, and a thrash to repair his car that landed in the sand pit at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, Gary Scelzi emerged victorious.
Driving the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, the 2005 Funny Car champion claimed his first Funny Car win at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, his first of the 2007 season, his 34th career (in 55 final rounds) in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, his ninth in Funny Car, and his first since Denver in 2005.
The final round could've been a downer for the Fresno, Calif., native, but it turned into an upper, when Robert Hight crossed the centerline en route to what would have been a holeshot win over Scelzi. Hight was disqualified and Scelzi bagged the win with another solid pass of 4.716 seconds at 332.26 mph. Hight's DQ'd pass was a 4.726/276.35.
On his journey to the final, Scelzi dismissed Jim Head with a 4.748/329.42, Eric Medlen with a 4.752/318.24, then Mike Ashley with a 4.690/331.69, which also resulted in Scelzi's landing in the sand at the end of the track when his parachutes failed to deploy properly. Members from each of the Don Schumacher Racing teams came to the rescue, as more than 20 people helped repair the car in time for the final. The body was replaced and the team was ready.
"It was exciting," said Scelzi. "We knew we had nothing for Jimmy (Prock, Hight's crew chief) and Robert. We knew we couldn't go 4.64 (which Hight ran earlier), and we knew that if they tried to do it that they were going to be at risk. And, if they did, hey, great.
"We tried to run a .68 or .67 to pick it up just a little bit. I went in thin. I had an .084 light (.000 is perfect). It was a good light. He had an .068, and he flat drove away from me for 700 feet and then he disappeared and I saw his win light come on. I had no idea that he hit the cone. The guys got on the radio and said, 'Yeah, you lost on a holeshot,' and I thought, God, that's just devastating.
"Then they got back on the radio and said I won. I thought, These guys, why would they be playing with me like that? But it was a little bit of a letdown to know that he was running so well and then hit the cone. Because it kind of takes a little away from the win, because they had a really good car. But we've given some away and we've had some bad luck and it's nice to get one back and it's great to win at the beginning of the season, especially with the Countdown, three new guys on the team, setting the tone, and a great race car. In eight runs down the race track, it never ran slower than a .75. It's phenomenal and I don't see any changes coming down the road. We're not out of clutch discs; we're in good shape with everything."
As for the damage to the car: "The chassis is fine. It messed the nose of the car up bad, but it could've been a lot worse. So I got is slowed down pretty good and that body will be off to get fixed and we'll have it by Phoenix I'm sure.
"One of the panels blew out of the parachutes, which made it grab the other 'chute, so they never opened. They tangled together. At 331 mph you're just not going to stop it."
On the Countdown to the Championship: "We want to be in the middle of this thing. It's important right now to be in the top eight when we get to Indy, and it's extremely important to be in the top four when we get to Vegas. That's a long way away. There's a lot of things that can happen and, boy, I tell you what, I'm going to sleep good tonight.
"I've been fighting the flu or something today and I woke up and just felt like crap all day. I kept saying, All I got to do is go a mile, just go a mile. All you have to be good for is 4.7 seconds and you're going to be fine. Just do that four times a day. We were lucky. We did the mile. Yes we did."
Next up is the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., Feb. 23-25.