Baytown: Gary Scelzi preview

SCELZI LOOKS TO ADD TO HIS HOUSTON RACEWAY RECORD BAYTOWN, Texas (April 6, 2005) - Three-time Top Fuel champion Gary Scelzi still holds the Top Fuel track speed record (4.480 seconds) at Houston Raceway, which he set in October 1999, three years...

SCELZI LOOKS TO ADD TO HIS HOUSTON RACEWAY RECORD

BAYTOWN, Texas (April 6, 2005) - Three-time Top Fuel champion Gary Scelzi still holds the Top Fuel track speed record (4.480 seconds) at Houston Raceway, which he set in October 1999, three years before he moved into the Funny Car category of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Now in his third season with Don Schumacher Racing, driving the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car, Scelzi would like to add to his record here, which also includes two Top Fuel wins and two No. 1 qualifiers, by winning his first Funny Car race at this Texas track in this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals.

"We are extremely motivated right now," he says, "especially after the showing we had in Gainesville" - the previous event in Florida, where he qualified fifth and reached the semifinal round, then lost to his teammate and eventual event winner Whit Bazemore.

"Aside from the hiccup in the semifinal, we had one of the quickest cars of eliminations, so we feel we're on our game.

"Houston is going to be a tricky race track, especially with the sun," adds Scelzi, who was the first to break the 330-mph barrier last year and has set the fastest speed 12 times in his Mopar/Oakley rocket ship. "The track has some bumps in it. I don't know if they've addressed any of those problems or not. It's not as fast a track as it used to be.

"But, we feel we can go down tricky race tracks, even when the sun comes out. That was a big thing for us in Gainesville, to be able to go down the race track in the heat, and we did that for two rounds. So we feel we've got a car that is the car to beat and we just need to go in there and again qualify (solidly in the field) early, take our shot at the night session for the pole, and try to win this race."

Scelzi is seventh in the point standings after three of 23 season events, just 75 points out of first place. "It's still early in the year, with a lot of races left. We just need to stay in it, go rounds, and we'll be right there in the mix for the championship."

Another goal for the Fresno (Calif.) native is to win his first Funny Car crown and become only the second driver in NHRA history to have won championships in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. Kenny Bernstein is the first.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Don Schumacher