SCELZI SMACK IN THE HEAT OF ALL BATTLES AT INDY INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 30, 2005) - Gary Scelzi is smack in the middle of all the excitement that is expected to surround this weekend's U.S. Nationals, the NHRA's biggest and most prestigious race of...
SCELZI SMACK IN THE HEAT OF ALL BATTLES AT INDY
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 30, 2005) - Gary Scelzi is smack in the middle of all the excitement that is expected to surround this weekend's U.S. Nationals, the NHRA's biggest and most prestigious race of the POWERade Drag Racing Series. The driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car is in arguably the tightest competition for the Funny Car championship that NHRA has ever seen and is a favorite to win the $100,000 Funny Car bonus event, the Skoal Showdown.
Scelzi, Robert Hight, John Force and Scelzi's teammate Ron Capps are in the midst of a classic battle among the Titans in the Funny Car class this year, as the season winds down to the final six events.
Consider Indianapolis Raceway Park as Rome's Coliseum in the days of gladiators fighting for their lives. Don Schumacher Racing versus John Force Racing. It doesn't get any better than this. The two largest Funny Car operations battling it out for all the laurels. Hight in the lead by only 30 points over Capps. Scelzi in third, five points behind Capps, and Force trailing Capps by 12 points. Force's third driver, Eric Medlen, has sneaked into the fight also and is 24 points back of Force.
Any one of these warriors could walk out with the prize of the Funny Car points lead after this weekend. That's Scelzi's goal, along with winning the Showdown.
"I'm really excited about the U.S. Nationals," said Scelzi, who is seeking his first Funny Car crown to go with his three Top Fuel championships. "It is the granddaddy of them all. It's the biggest race of the year. It has so much meaning, so much history. You throw on top of that the Showdown and this points battle that's going on and you've got a great event. And to be a part of all of it is just incredible. Sometimes you take things for granted. But when you look at what's going to go on at the U.S. Nationals this year it's almost overwhelming.
"It's exciting because I'm in the middle of it. I'm in the middle of the POWERade points chase. I'm second in the qualifying for the Showdown, and I have a car that's running and capable of doing what (John Force Racing tuner) Jimmy Prock did last year (with Gary Densham), by winning all of them.
"I've won the (Top Fuel) Bud Shootout, which is comparable to the Showdown, three times, and then I've won the U.S. Nationals once (in Top Fuel) and was runner-up in 1986 with my own Alcohol Dragster, but there are only a few people who have won this race in both pro fuel classes: Ed McCulloch, Kenny Bernstein, Don Prudhomme and Jim Head are the main ones."
Scelzi's successful results in last week's two-day test session at IRP could be a precursor of things to come this weekend. "Testing was great," said the Fresno, Calif., native. "We were the quickest (both days). We tried quite a few different things tune-up-wise and it seemed to respond to all of them. Either the Mopar/Oakley Dodge liked it or it didn't like it. There was no gray area, which was a really neat thing.
"Whenever you go to test like that you never know what you're going to get. It took a while for the track to come around, but we were actually trying things while we were waiting for the track to come to us.
"It worked out. I was very pleased with the test session. I don't think it could've gone much better. But, there are no points for test sessions. Now we have to execute and that's what we need to do this weekend. We need to stay focused, we need to not get caught up in all the hoopla that Indy brings and try to win the damned race.
"The Showdown would be great to win, but what's really important is the race on Monday."