SCELZI TAKES A SLIGHT DETOUR ON HIS 'GREATEST FUNNY CAR COMEBACK' KENT, Wash. (July 23, 2006) - Reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi took a slight detour en route to his "greatest Funny Car comeback" today...
SCELZI TAKES A SLIGHT DETOUR ON HIS 'GREATEST FUNNY CAR COMEBACK'
KENT, Wash. (July 23, 2006) - Reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi took a slight detour en route to his "greatest Funny Car comeback" today after his second-round exit in Funny Car eliminations at the Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals.
Scelzi easily drove the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T past 13-time champion John Force in the opening round (4.972/309.49 to 5.045/293.35). First goal, check.
Scelzi's second goal was to then take out his teammate and points leader Ron Capps in the quarterfinal so that he could move closer to the top of the standings. He couldn't check that one off, as Capps outran him to the finish when Scelzi's car smoked the tires. Capps took the win with a 5.066/299.80 to Scelzi's losing 5.573/227.92.
The Fresno, Calif., native, who returned to the winner's circle in Denver last weekend and says he has his "hot rod back" after struggling the first half of the season, is looking to match his 1998 great comeback when he torched the second half of the season after a poor first half to win his second of three Top Fuel championships.
The points margin he's first aiming to make up is the one to third place, held by Robert Hight. Scelzi is in sixth place now, just one point out of fifth (Eric Medlen) and 45 short of third. His next big jump to the top will be his toughest, as he is 295 points shy of No. 1 Ron Capps.
"So much for the sweep," he said of trying to win all three races of the Western Swing (Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif.). "I just went out there about 500 feet and it started wearing more clutch, which actually feeds it more clutch - even though we slowed it down - and smoked the tires.
"It's almost exactly the same as the run before, but it just got a little bit faster. We took preparation that it wouldn't wear clutch, but it still wore. When it does that, it changes the lever angle, and 'bada boom,' tire smoke. It's unfortunate.
"We eliminated Force, but then Capps marched on (to the final round, which he lost to teammate Whit Bazemore,) which is great for Capps for points. But we needed to win this race. So, we'll go to Sonoma and continue on.
"We're not discouraged. Until we're out of races and there's no way to do it, we're going for it. We're not changing our game plan. It would have been nice to win here, but, hey, we'll go win Sonoma."
Next up is the Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., July 28-30.