Gary Scelzi became the fastest Funny Car driver on the planet again, eclipsing his 326.95-mph run at Englishtown, N.J., two weeks ago, with an even faster 327.98-mph pass today. He accomplished this feat in today's second round of qualifying (only one round was held on Friday because of rain). He also claimed his career best elapsed time of 4.782 seconds on that lap, earning him No. 6 qualifying position. Scelzi, driving the Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus R/T, attempted to back up his speed for a national record in today's final round of qualifying, but was unable to do so, posting a cylinder-dropping 4.908/308.07 in a side-by-side pass against his teammate Whit Bazemore. He still has final eliminations on Sunday in which to back it up for the national record. The three-time Top Fuel champion who is seeking his first Funny Car win will face Tim Wilkerson in tomorrow's first round of eliminations. "It's great to be the fastest Funny Car driver again," he said, "but we want the national record. That's the reason Dodge has done what it's done and given us the wind tunnel time and the engineering support. We want to back it up. That's our whole goal. "In the last run, the backup run, a disc wore at normally more than it should have and it dropped a cylinder. Hence our slow e.t. and slow speed. We just can't get that break to get us over the hump. But that's OK. It's just qualifying. We ran very well. We ran a .78, our personal best. The important thing now is to go out tomorrow and win the race. It should run over 324.70 mph, to back up the record. We're not going to worry about it; it should just do it. And if we can run 4.70 somethings and .80 flats then we've got a good horse to ride into the sunset with, I hope." When asked if the speed was a surprise, he responded: "It really wasn't. I did a radio show this morning and I said there's a real good chance we could run a 327, even a 328, and so I have witnesses - everybody who was listening into the radio show this morning. So, it wasn't a surprise, because these bodies have been fast all year long. If Bazemore hasn't been fast, we've been fast. So it's been pretty common. A surprise? No. It's nice to have the fastest hot rod in the world." Crew chief Mike Neff was calm, cool and pleasantly surprised. "It's been going pretty fast here lately," he said, "and we knew if we could get it to go a little faster speed at half track that it should carry that to the finish line. And that's exactly what it did. "We ran a couple of miles an hour faster to half track than we have been and ran a couple faster on the top end. It's been showing signs of it. We've run fast here lately, so it's a pleasant surprise. We knew it could do it, but you're always still a little shocked to actually see it do it. We're very happy that things are turning around for us. We still have a couple of gremlins here and there that just seem to keep aborting runs for us, but hopefully we're back on the right track and we feel real positive about everything."
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Route 66 Raceway
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