Courtesy: Dave Gerard / NHRA.com

Gary Scelzi put his Hemi-powered Oakley Funny Car at the forefront of Sunday's session of the Las Vegas Blast-Off, the first official weekend of testing for the POWERade Drag Racing Series, which begins Feb. 19 in Pomona, Calif. Scelzi, a three-time Top Fuel world champion with just 30 races of Funny Car experience, cruised down The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a 4.794 at 310 mph.

Defending NHRA Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon saved his best run for the final day. Pedregon, longtime driver for John Force Racing who chose to guide his own destiny as a team owner in 2004, powered his Quaker State Chevy Camaro down the quarter-mile track in 4.798 seconds at 313.29 mph to end the three-day session.

Despite Scelzi's Sunday heroics, the best passes of the Blast-Off belonged to 12-time champion John Force, who put his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang through a 4.736-second pass on one attempt and reached a top speed of 329.18 mph on other run during Friday's action. Force and teammates Eric Medlen and Gary Densham, who both posted 4.7-second passes of their own, were not in attendance Sunday.

Scelzi's Schumacher Racing teammate Whit Bazemore also posted competitive performance numbers Sunday. Bazemore raced his Matco Tools Stratus to a 4.867 at 291.19. Bazemore's run was close to matching his effort from Saturday, a 4.861 at 318.62. Scelzi's best on Saturday was a 4.803 at 313.80.

Del Worsham raced to a 4.926 at 275.17 in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird on Saturday, his quickest run of the weekend.

NHRA nitro category teams will now move on to Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix for two days of testing (Feb. 7-8) before heading to Southwestern International Raceway for the final three days of testing (Feb. 13-15). The season officially opens with the 44th annual K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway, Feb. 19-22. The $1.7 million race is the first of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series for 2004.

While most Pro Stock teams are busy preparing to test at the traditional Pontiac Pro Stock Super Bowl at Houston Raceway Park, Feb. 7, Ben Watson clocked two passes at The Strip on Saturday. He clocked a best of 6.945 at 198.45. Also Saturday, Pro Stock Bike top 10 finisher Mike Berry posted a testing-best of 7.229 at 184.95 on his Suzuki.