Gainesville: Gary Scelzi preview

HAPPY WITH VALDOSTA TEST, SCELZI LOOKS FOR FIRST GATORS WIN GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 11, 2008) - Gary Scelzi joined his Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car teammate Jerry Toliver at South Georgia Motorsports Park the last few days testing new...

HAPPY WITH VALDOSTA TEST, SCELZI LOOKS FOR FIRST GATORS WIN

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 11, 2008) - Gary Scelzi joined his Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car teammate Jerry Toliver at South Georgia Motorsports Park the last few days testing new chassis in advance of the NHRA Gatornationals this weekend, the third of 24 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events.

The results were positive said the four-time NHRA world champion who drives the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing. Scelzi is hoping the new Murf McKinney chassis the team will run in Gainesville will help him win his first national event here. Since joining the Funny Car class full-time in 2003 with DSR, Scelzi's won 12 Funny Car titles to go with his 25 Top Fuel victories, but none of those wins were earned at the Gatornationals.

Before the Norwalk, Ohio, and Charlotte, N.C., races were added to the NHRA schedule, Scelzi had only Gainesville and Englishtown, N.J., to check off his list. Now, there are four NHRA venues at which he has yet to win.

"Maybe not everybody knows this," said Scelzi, a Fresno, Calif., native, "but I certainly know that I have never won the Gatornationals, and it's just one of those deals. It's so old and so prestigious. The Gatornationals to me may not be as important as the U.S. Nationals (which he won in Top Fuel in 1998), but it's pretty damned close.

"We're going to the Gators with a new naturalized tubing Murf McKinney car," he added. "We just finished testing at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Valdosta, Ga. We had a great test with the Brad Hadman car and the Murf McKinney car. We found out that the two cars have different characteristics, but they're both pretty good.

"We're very happy with the test, and I'm very excited to go to Gainesville," said Scelzi, who is fifth in the point standings after the first two events of the season. "We're looking for some big things. We've been fortunate enough, and unfortunate enough, to only go out in the second round both times this season. Those aren't first-round losses, so that's big. Now we need to carry it a little bit further and try to get this Mopar/Oakley Dodge team a win at Gainesville.

"We've also got Rob Richard coming to the Gators," said Scelzi. "He's the new Director of Global Mopar Parts, Sales and Service Marketing, Chrysler LLC. This is his first race as the 'boss' and we'd like to give him his first race win as well."

Scelzi's Gainesville record includes low qualifier in 1998, 2000 and 2001 (all in Top Fuel), a 2001 runner-up finish in Top Fuel, and a Funny Car runner-up finish in 2002.

In 2007, he qualified No. 2, but lost to Kenny Bernstein in the opening round of eliminations.

-credit: dsr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Gary Scelzi , Jerry Toliver , Don Schumacher