Scelzi seizes sixth spot
Chicago, Saturday: Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Gary Scelzi captured the No. 6 starting spot during a rain-delayed final qualifying session on Saturday night at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill. The four-time NHRA champ earned his best qualifying berth of the year and remains a formidable threat to repeat as event champ in the elimination rounds tomorrow.
The Don Schumacher Racing driver, winner of the 2007 Route 66 NHRA Nationals, saved his best run for last, posting a pass of 4.781/319.22. Scelzi, the only pro drag racer to score triumphs in both the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes at Route 66 Raceway, will go head-to-head with his former crew chief, Mike Neff, in the opening round.
“This is the first time that we’ve qualified in the top half of the field all year long,” said Scelzi. “We wanted to see what this car had and we finally did, but it put a cylinder out at 850 feet. So we still don’t really know what the car is capable of, which is a little disappointing. But we’re still pretty happy with what we got.”
The Fresno, Calif., native knows it won’t be an easy task to knock off Neff, the man who tuned his Mopar/Oakley Funny Car to the 2005 NHRA title.
“Zippy’s [Neff] part of John Force Racing. He’s doing a good job behind the wheel. It’s going to be a big race. It’s going to be fun, going against the old crew chief. We’ll just take them one at a time, and right now we’re looking at Mike Neff.”
Scelzi added, “We know this thing will make some action when we need to make it. We just haven’t had enough good runs at night. So, we’re pleased and we’re looking forward to tomorrow. It’s going to be a hot, slippery day, so it’s going to be a whole different tune-up.”
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