Brainerd: Gary Scelzi preview

SCELZI SEEKS BRAINERD FUNNY CAR TRIUMPH BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 8, 2006) - Gary Scelzi has done a good job of notching victories at those tracks at which he's never won as a four-time NHRA world champion (three Top Fuel, one Funny Car). In the...

SCELZI SEEKS BRAINERD FUNNY CAR TRIUMPH

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 8, 2006) - Gary Scelzi has done a good job of notching victories at those tracks at which he's never won as a four-time NHRA world champion (three Top Fuel, one Funny Car). In the last two years he's conquered Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway and Bandimere Speedway in Denver. He has only Englishtown, N.J., and Gainesville, Fla., left on his list.

Brainerd Int'l Raceway, however, is a site where the reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion has only one Top Fuel victory (of 32 overall) to brag about. It was back in 1998 when he defeated Mike Dunn, now an ESPN race analyst. So, he's ready to score his eighth career Funny Car win at this weekend's Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, second of the year, and his first at this track.

After struggling earlier this season, the driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car feels he finally has the car to do it, as he aims to get himself back up front in the championship chase. He's sixth in the rankings, 87 out of the top five, and 107 short of third place. His 298-point deficit to leader and teammate Ron Capps is going to be tough to master.

"I'm going to be 46 years old on Friday," says the Fresno, Calif., native. "I'm going to be an older man and I'm just going to use that for motivation.

"Brainerd is a tricky place. They repaved it, and it seems when it gets hot here the track gets really slippery. I'm not sure what the weather is going to be like.

"Historically, we've been really good on a slippery race track. We got to Denver and ran really well on a hot, slippery race track (winner there). We've run well in the past and somewhere we've lost it between Denver and Sonoma (two early-round losses in Seattle and Sonoma). So, hopefully we're going to get that back and get back on track, because we want to be running well and win some races before Indy, because we're concentrating everything we've got on Indy (U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend.)"

What will it take to get back up front? "We need to start winning some races right away," he says. "It's just one of those years that there's only a couple of guys who have been able to break away and that's (John) Force (in second) and Capps. And, unfortunately, I think they've broken away far enough that all we can do is try to screw up their day.

"Obviously, we want to see Capps win it if we can't win it," he says of the championship race. "There's only eight races left and we need to get on a roll here. Hopefully, Brainerd is going to be the turning point, and we can do well here and carry that momentum on to Memphis (the next event)."

-credit: dsr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Dunn , Ron Capps , Gary Scelzi