Scelzi ties Worsham in qualifying, starts No. 4 in Pomona POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 13, 2004) - After a disappointing third qualifying session, where he smoked the tires on his HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car (10.521/80.29), Gary Scelzi...
Scelzi ties Worsham in qualifying, starts No. 4 in Pomona
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 13, 2004) - After a disappointing third qualifying session, where he smoked the tires on his HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car (10.521/80.29), Gary Scelzi poured it on in the final round and put a period on the script for the second act of the continuing drama called the chase for second place against Del Worsham by posting a stellar 4.728-second pass at 326.00 mph.
That was good for No. 1 at that point, but five more pairs were in the wings before the curtain would come down and the third act of the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series - final eliminations - could begin. Scelzi held on to No. 1 through three more pairs until Gary Densham pulled out a 4.706/329.75, which his boss John Force then demolished in the final pass with a 4.698/329.18 to take the top spot in the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history (4.698 to 4.854).
In the lane next to Force was Worsham, polesitter coming into today's final session. In a scenario only a playwright could script, Worsham, who is tied with Scelzi in championship points, also matched Scelzi's pass with an identical 4.728 but with a faster speed. By virtue of speed, Worsham took over No. 3, relegating Scelzi to No. 4.
"I'm trying not to get nervous about this whole thing," said Scelzi. "We're just trying to stay focused on what we've got to do. I tell you, I was fighting it. We were lined up on the left-hand side of the groove and the thing was chasing me over there. I kept trying to herd it back in there. I hit the 'whoa' button, 'whoa, over here, baby, that's not where I want you to go.'"
"It's exciting. Whatever happens, happens.
"We're happy as long as we're in the top half. I was kinda hoping we'd end up No. 5, because that's what's happened the last two races," he said of his two consecutive wins from fifth position. "But the HEMI Oakley Dodge finally did what it was supposed to do. We have some clutch glitches here. We made an educated change. Zippy (crew chief Mike Neff) said 'I know what I gotta do. It'll be fine.' It went out and ran a .72. It dropped a hole (cylinder) right before the finish line, so it probably would have been a little bit better.
"But we can race. We're one point behind Del in qualifying. We'll just go win the race and we won't have to worry about that one point. That's 20 big ones, maybe we'll win it by 19. We'll take them one at a time tomorrow and see what happens."
Scelzi faces Bob Bode in the first round of eliminations on Sunday, which begin at 11 a.m. He and Worsham are on different sides of the ladder.