Columbus: Gary Scelzi preview

SCELZI WANTS TO 'CLOSE THE DEAL' IN COLUMBUS HEBRON, Ohio, (May 16, 2006) - Gary Scelzi, the reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion, has been the Funny Car bridesmaid at National Trail Raceway the last two seasons, by ...

SCELZI WANTS TO 'CLOSE THE DEAL' IN COLUMBUS

HEBRON, Ohio, (May 16, 2006) - Gary Scelzi, the reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion, has been the Funny Car bridesmaid at National Trail Raceway the last two seasons, by finishing runner-up in 2004 and 2005.

And before you start looking for that frilly, pink frock for him to wear (and you KNOW he's likely to wear it for one of his 'Scelzi Sez' segments on ESPN2), be warned that he's aiming to close the deal this weekend at the NHRA Nationals, round 8 of 23, and become the bride.

Driving the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, fan-favorite Scelzi started off the 2006 season in less than spectacular fashion: he lost five times in early rounds, reached the semis once, qualified in the top half five times and DNQ'd one time.

And, despite a DQ for crossing the centerline while winning the quarterfinal at Atlanta Dragway last week, Scelzi says he's got his car back. You remember, the one that set top speed 21 times since the Fresno, Calif., native joined DSR in the Funny Car class in 2003! He's ready to repeat his 1997 win here in Top Fuel and earn his first Funny Car victory at this track.

Scelzi was No. 1 qualifier at National Trail Raceway in Top Fuel in 2000 and still holds the Funny Car track-record speed here of 327.11 mph, set last year.

"We're going to close the deal, which we haven't been able to do," he says. "I don't know what the weather is supposed to be like this weekend, but we might have cool conditions. Columbus is a very tricky race track. We've had a lot of success here over the last couple of years and hopefully that won't change.

"We learned a lot of stuff in Atlanta," adds the three-time Top Fuel champion. "We learned a lot during the event and we learned a lot more on Monday testing, with the Dodge Charger body: downforce, spoiler heights, a lot of things that we haven't been able to run because we've been fighting all these clutch problems. So, I feel really good. I felt good going into Atlanta and Bristol and I feel really good coming into Columbus.

"Basically, we're a win waiting for a place to happen."

It's still early in the season and Scelzi is not discouraged by his points position. "We're 11th. We're only a few points out of 10th (24 to be exact), but I know that, if we could win a race, it would get us back in the thick of things. We just need to continue and win quite a few races and then we'll evaluate after the Western Swing and see where we're at.

"I'm not going to worry about the championship chase. Hopefully, I can give (points leader Ron) Capps and (second-place John) Force a little phone call about October and say, 'I'm here!' And without anybody even knowing."

DOMINIC SCELZI RACING UPDATE

Gary Scelzi's son Dominic, who turned 9 on May 2, has been competing in Junior Sprints at the Park Plaza circuit in Visalia, Calif., and this past weekend the younger Scelzi had a bit of a mishap. But, just like Dad, he was back on that horse without hesitation.

"Dominic qualified fourth," explained Scelzi the elder. "He took the lead in the main event on lap 60 and a lapped car turned down on him and flipped him. They pushed him back over, he said, 'Get me started,' and he went back out with a bent wing and passed four cars in three laps. So, it didn't faze him at all and he's ready to go. He did well. We're fixing his car right now so he can run this Friday.

"When he wrecked, he said to me, 'I'm starting to get your luck, Dad,' which is not good."

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Don Schumacher