SCELZI NO. 1 QUALIFIER ON FRIDAY IN POMONA POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 4, 2005) - Gary Scelzi backed up a potential national record with his 4.696-second elapsed time at 329.18 mph today, qualifying No. 1 after two sessions. If he were to surpass the...
SCELZI NO. 1 QUALIFIER ON FRIDAY IN POMONA
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 4, 2005) - Gary Scelzi backed up a potential national record with his 4.696-second elapsed time at 329.18 mph today, qualifying No. 1 after two sessions.
If he were to surpass the 4.665-second national record held by John Force before the weekend is over, he may be the one who earns those 20 bonus points, and not Force who has publicly proclaimed his plan to do just that.
Scelzi entered this final race of the year the leader in NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points, with his teammate Ron Capps two points behind in second. Force trailed in third, 28 points back. One of these drivers will emerge as the 2005 Funny Car champion on Sunday.
After two qualifying sessions, Force is eighth and Capps ninth.
"Yesterday I was nervous because things can happen," said Scelzi, "and I've seen it happen to where if you go for the throat on the first run and you smoke the tires then you start chasing, and if a stupid part breaks or anything happens, you have a mental lapse, you could end up not racing on Sunday, and then what kind of a championship is this?
"So it was really important to get the car qualified. But, really, since Indy, I don't feel like I've really been on my game. I've been tense more so than all of the other championships. In Vegas I started to come around.
"But, it was so funny today. We're in the staging lanes before this second run and Frank Hawley (Drag Racing School owner) was there. I went and saw Frank in 1998. And Frank says, 'Scelzi, what's going on? I want to take your picture because you went to my school years ago and yadayadayada.
"So, I said, Frank, while you're here, why don't we have a little conversation? I've been edgy, I've been nervous, I haven't been the normal goofy Scelzi. It just seems like I'm putting so much into this because you don't know when you're going to get a chance to have a shot at a championship. You work your whole life for it. I've been fortunate enough to win them and they're not easy. And they're really even worse when you're going against the 13-time champ and Ron Capps, who is all of the above. He just hasn't got the ring yet, but he's more than capable.
"And Frank said, 'Well, the one thing I can tell you, Scelzi, I don't have to teach you how to drive because you've won in everything you've been in. The only thing I think you're missing is that you forgot why you're doing this. Because it's fun. Because you love doing this, and you just need to relax and get the attitude that nobody's going to beat you and it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what anybody says, what anybody thinks, the media, the press, whatever. It doesn't matter. You just go in there and have fun because you're in the car, you're in control.'
"I rolled up there, rolled a 4.69, had a great light, and I felt good. They talk about psychiatrists, but Frank didn't tell me anything I didn't know. I had just forgotten what this is all about. Hats off to Frank Hawley, and what a great advertisement. But it works. It's the truth. I'm not just b.s.-ing."
Can he back up that run for a national record? "Tomorrow we'll be running in these [same cooler] conditions here, and if weather permits, we'll stand on it even harder.
"I don't think you can set a national record with that rev limiter. That's the one key element. We were in Chicago in a mine shaft. This place is good, but it's not quite as smooth, the conditions aren't quite as good, and 4.68 was the best they ran there. I'm not saying it can't happen, but, I tell you, it's going to be an Act of Congress to make that happen."
What about Force's proclamation that he was going for the national record? "I thought John was just trying to get more press," Scelzi said, "because that record thing is a longshot and John may seem like he's desperate, but he's not.
"If John Force happened to win the POWERade championship this year I don't think anyone would be shocked. I think the big shock would be if Capps or myself can beat him. And I'm not just saying that. That guy has won too many championships. And the last time I checked he still had a pulse."