SCELZI ADVANCES TO SECOND ROUND IN TOPEKA TOPEKA, Kan. (May 29, 2005) - Gary Scelzi and Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car crew chief Mike Neff were on their game this weekend at a hot and steamy Heartland Park Topeka, site of the ninth round...
SCELZI ADVANCES TO SECOND ROUND IN TOPEKA
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 29, 2005) - Gary Scelzi and Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car crew chief Mike Neff were on their game this weekend at a hot and steamy Heartland Park Topeka, site of the ninth round of 23 events in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals.
After reaching the final round in two of the last three races, it looked like the team was back to the performance dominance here in Topeka that the fans had grown to appreciate when Scelzi qualified No. 5, then dismissed Tony Bartone in the first round of eliminations with a 4.839-second elapsed time at 320.97 to Bartone's losing 5.087/292.46.
Next on the agenda was the second round, with lane choice against Tommy Johnson Jr. Scelzi launched first off the line with a strong .064 reaction time, although T.J. was close behind with a .066. But Scelzi was barely off the line before the car struck the tires and coasted to an 11.529-second pass at 77.08 mph. Johnson took the win with a 4.987/307.58.
"That was very unfortunate," said Scelzi, who was looking to carve John Force's first-place advantage in the points standings after two of the other close contenders for the championship were ousted in the first round. "Cruz (Pedregon) went out, (Whit) Bazemore went out. We needed to match Force and go around him and Robert Hight round-wise, but those two guys went on, so we took one on the chin today. But we've taken them on the chin before, and over the head and in the gut.
"We'll recover. We don't normally have things like that happen when it gets hot. We've had a really good car in the heat, we've had a really good car in the cold. We're just going to brush it off as just one of those unfortunate things and load up and we'll see these guys again in Chicago."
Scelzi fell to third in points behind Force (winner today) and Hight, and is just 12 points out of second.
Next up is the CARQUEST NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill., on June 10-12, 2005.