Scelzi exits in opening round, ends up third for the year
Pomona, Sunday: The only way No. 2 in Countdown to One points Gary Scelzi could win his second Funny Car crown this weekend at the Auto Club NHRA Finals once No. 1 Tony Pedregon qualified for the event was to win outright and set a national elapsed-time record for 20 bonus points if Pedregon lost first round.
Pedregon did lose the first round, but, unfortunately, so did Scelzi, relegating him to a third-place finish for the season.
Driving the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T, Scelzi faced off against No. 3 in points Robert Hight in the opening round, smoking the tires at half-track and losing to Hight with a 5.632-second elapsed time at 176.90 mph. Hight garnered the victory with a 4.902/307.09.
"It was running right on top of our 4.78 qualifying run and I got the car a little bit to the inside and got out of the groove with one tire and it smoked the tires," explained the four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series champion. "Real narrow groove here. I've been OK throughout the weekend, but for whatever reason it just got away and drove them off.
"The good news is we ended up third. We wanted to be second if we couldn't win it, but it's disappointing for me. I don't want to be the one to let the guys down and that's kind of what happened.
"I'm excited about next year. I think (crew chief, along with Phil Shuler) Todd Okuhara has done a great job. I appreciate everything Zippy (former crew chief Mike Neff) has done, but we don't have Zippy anymore, we have Todd, and I really like where he's leading us and explaining to the guys why he wants things done a certain way.
"I think we're going to be right in the middle of it next year. I can't wait for my new (Brad) Hadman chassis. Murf (McKinney) is going to build us some cars, we're going to do some different things, and we're going to have some naturalized tubing. We're going to have a whole different deal. I just like where we're headed as far as safety goes, and where Todd's leading us.
"Let's get on with it, let's enjoy the off season, and let's get started. January will be here before we know it."
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