Scelzi lands in semiís
Denver, Sunday: Gary Scelzi almost conquered the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, one of just three tracks at which he's never won (as well as Gainesville, Fla., and Englishtown, N.J.). He didn't win, but he did break his streak of never going past the second round of eliminations at this track by landing in the semifinal round today.
Scelzi steered the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car through the first round by defeating Cruz Pedregon with a 5.023/297.22 to Pedregon's losing 5.142/286.13. He then dismissed Del Worsham in the second round with a 5.050/301.60, while Worsham smoked the tires to a 6.774/143.86.
The semifinal round for Scelzi versus Robert Hight was pivotal in the championship, as the winner would take over the lead in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings. John Force, the leader coming into this race, had been eliminated in the first round for the second straight event.
Scelzi torched the starting lights with a blistering .039 reaction time to Hight's .057, but it didn't achieve the desired result, as the Mopar/Oakley Dodge lost traction immediately and Scelzi was unable to recover, slowing to a losing 11.255/78.82 pass while Hight took the victory with a 4.964/316.75.
Scelzi dropped to third in points, but is now only 14 points behind John Force in second, and 36 short of Robert Hight, who took over the lead with his win.
"I'm happy," he said. "We came in here in second place, three rounds out of first. We're leaving here in third, but we're only going to be one or two rounds out of first. I've never been past second round here and I've only been to the second round once. So I made it to the semis. We'll be fine.
"We had a cylinder that was hot and, for whatever reason, we don't know, the engine was running funny up there. And when I stepped off, it pulled on the engine too hard. We haven't found out exactly what happened, but we will.
"We're going to be good. We'll be good in Seattle, we'll be good in Sonoma. I'm very pleased to be right in the middle of this thing."
The Funny Car battle is heating up. The top four drivers are in close striking distance of the Funny Car championship, with Scelzi's teammate Ron Capps in fourth, only 81 points behind the top spot.
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