Gainesville: Gary Scelzi preview

CONQUERING TRACK, EARNING BONUS POINTS ARE SCELZI'S GOALS FOR GAINESVILLE GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 15, 2006) - Three-time Top Fuel champion and reigning Funny Car titleholder Gary Scelzi has 32 career event wins to his credit at every venue at...

CONQUERING TRACK, EARNING BONUS POINTS ARE SCELZI'S GOALS FOR GAINESVILLE

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 15, 2006) - Three-time Top Fuel champion and reigning Funny Car titleholder Gary Scelzi has 32 career event wins to his credit at every venue at which the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series competes, except three: Englishtown, N.J., Denver, Colo., and Gainesville, Fla.

Scelzi has his sites set on conquering Gainesville Raceway at this weekend's NHRA Gatornationals as well as setting a national elapsed-time record with the new Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T he'll debut here. In an already tension-filled chase for the 2006 Funny Car championship after only two events, Scelzi says every point and every round win is going to count if he's to defend his Funny Car title.

He's already one spot ahead of where he was in the point standings (ninth) last year at this stage of the season, despite early-round losses in the first two events. Recent Phoenix testing results have also buoyed Scelzi's confidence.

"I've been runner-up here in Top Fuel and Funny Car," says the Fresno, Calif., native. "God, yes, I want to conquer it. I'm really excited this year coming back to Gainesville because of the test we had in Phoenix (after the last event) on Monday and Tuesday. The car just acts totally different with the parts that we've changed; it was very consistent. It reminded me a lot of last year towards the end of the year. It was very good.

"We're going to treat Gainesville just like it's Indy (the prestigious U.S. Nationals) because this is one that I've never won and it's very important, in my mind. I've had a lot of accomplishments and a lot of things I should be proud of. One thing I want to do is to win at every single venue that we go to. And Gainesville is one of them. We're not going to be at those other two (Englishtown and Denver) for a while, so Gainesville is the one that I'm looking at right now.

"If the weather is right, who knows? We may be able to set a national record here. Depending on how qualifying goes, if this Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger does what I think it's going to do, we're definitely going to go for it. Because that's 20 points that we'd like to take away. We know (John) Force is going to go after it and we feel we've got a car capable of setting a national record."

It's early in the season, but the desire to defend the Funny Car championship that was so emotionally draining to win at the end of last season is high on Scelzi's and crew chief Mike Neff's lists.

"We don't want to get behind," adds Scelzi, who has set 20 top speeds in his Funny Car career. "I feel that this year will be as good or better than last year. I still believe that there's going to be five cars going for the championship at the end of the year. And I feel that those five cars will be winning a lot of rounds. I don't think it's going to be like last year, that the good cars will get beat early. I feel that the good cars are going to be excelling, going to the semis and going to the finals. And I think that's where we need to be, and that's where our goals are set right now, to go to the semis and the finals and win races."

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Mike Neff