Scelzi a victim in opening round
Las Vegas, Sunday: Four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series champion Gary Scelzi wasn't able to parlay his solid qualifying effort at the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway into a first-round win.
The Fresno, Calif., native squared off against the reigning Funny Car champion and No. 10 qualifier Tony Pedregon in the opening stanza, charging off the line with a .072 reaction time to Pedregon's .082 (.000 is perfect). Scelzi led the first 330 feet then hazed the tires on the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T. Pedregon's run wasn't perfect, but it shot him to the finish line first with a 5.120-second elapsed time at 294.05 mph to Scelzi's losing 5.351/256.94.
"It went out there and it got a little bit fast and the ass end of the car washed out a little bit," said Scelzi, who is 13th in the Funny Car point standings, "and I got it back and I was on the right side of the groove and then it got the right tire and it just drove me out of the groove and smoked the tires. Got it back, but by then it was too late. We were in trouble.
"It's unfortunate. We've really got a race car now that's going down the race track. It's doing what Todd (Okuhara, crew chief) wants it to do. It's frustrating as hell because we're trying so hard. And we know that we can win right now. You can't force it; you've just got to let it happen, and it's just not giving it to us.
"It's a tough class," he said of the 21-plus fields recently, "but we've got a car that should be able to go out there and whip some ass, and it will. But we want it now."
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