Scelzi ends his nhra tour with a first-round finish
Pomona, Sunday: Gary Scelzi survived and enjoyed an emotional time at the NHRA Finals this weekend as he bid farewell - for a while at least - to his loyal and supportive NHRA fans and competitors as he prepared to step away from the sport to spend more time with family and the family business in Fresno, Calif.
Before he could give his final goodbye to his protagonists and antagonists on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series circuit, however, he had to compete in the season-ending national event driving the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car for the last time for Don Schumacher Racing.
After qualifying No. 7, he found himself facing his DSR teammate Jack Beckman, who was in the midst of battling for the Funny Car championship, in the opening round. But then, Scelzi wanted to go out with a victory. It would be an important match-up for both.
They launched with nearly identical reaction times, but the Mopar/Oakley Dodge struck the tires early, as Beckman cruised to the victory with a 4.149-second lap at 299.80 mph to Scelzi's losing 5.066/162.59.
It turned out to be a mechanical glitch that caused the loss of traction. "I guess we found out the ignition retarder didn't kick in and the thing just kept timing in it and smoked the tires," said Scelzi. "I don't know why it didn't work. The MSDs have been great for the last year; we haven't had any problems. Unfortunately, it had to happen first round. I think we could have given Jack a run for his money.
"Whether we would have won or not, who knows? That was a good number. Both of us had good lights. Everything was good. We both went in thin. We were going for (lane choice) next round and it just didnít make it. So, it's one of those things.
"Not the way I wanted to end the season, but I've got a whole lot more good to look forward to than the bad that's behind me."
What is he looking forward to now? "Right now I'm looking for an ice cold beer," he said with a laugh. "But, the biggest thing I'm looking forward to is going home and relaxing and going to work tomorrow at 7 in the morning."
How does he describe his 12-year run as a pro in NHRA? "Incredible."
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