Indy ORP: Gary Scelzi preview

FUELED BY STRONG TESTS, SCELZI STOKED FOR U.S. NATIONALS FRESNO, Calif. (Aug. 28, 2007) - Following strong results during the three-day NHRA open test session at O'Reilly Raceway Park last week, four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series world...

FUELED BY STRONG TESTS, SCELZI STOKED FOR U.S. NATIONALS

FRESNO, Calif. (Aug. 28, 2007) - Following strong results during the three-day NHRA open test session at O'Reilly Raceway Park last week, four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series world champion Gary Scelzi is stoked for this weekend's prestigious U.S. Nationals, the Countdown and the Showdown.

In his five full seasons in the Funny Car class, the driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T has not won the Skoal Showdown in his three appearances in the $100,000 bonus event held at the U.S. Nationals. And he does not count the U.S. Nationals as the site of one of his 10 victories in the Funny Car class. He has, however, won in Top Fuel at the U.S. Nationals, in 1998.

No. 7 in the Countdown to the Championship, with a revamped hot rod under him, Scelzi is eager to strut his and his Mopar/Oakley Dodge crew's stuff this weekend, as the Countdown to Four begins.

"I don't think I've ever been past the second round in the Showdown," said Scelzi, who joins his DSR teammates Ron Capps and Jack Beckman in both the Countdown and the Showdown contests.

"I feel really good about going into the U.S. Nationals right now because (crew chiefs) Todd (Okuhara) and Phil (Shuler) have done such a great job with the Mopar/Oakley Dodge. In testing last week, the car would go down the track whenever they wanted it to go down the track, which is exciting. Then when they wanted it to go quick and fast it was able to do that too.

"We've got a pretty wide range on our tune-up. And every time we made a run, Todd just got a big grin on his face and said, 'OK, now it's doing what it's supposed to be doing.'

"As a driver, when your crew chief shows confidence, it makes you feel really good."

The U.S. Nationals is notorious for its grueling schedule, including five qualifying passes in three days, the Skoal Showdown held during qualifying, Monday's eliminations, as well as the battle for a spot in the Countdown to Four. This next phase of the new playoff system will see a champion crowned from those four in the last two events of the season.

"When you wake up Tuesday morning to go home when you leave the U.S. Nationals, you feel empty," said Scelzi, "because you're so used to driving your race car every day for four days. But, you know what, I am so excited about going into it this year. I feel we've got a car that's as good if not better than anybody's. Everybody's excited on the team. Todd's excited, Phil's excited, Capps is excited, so is Beckman. There's a lot of energy right now. What better place is there than Indy to go into a race like that and have that kind of advantage?"

-credit: dsr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Gary Scelzi , Jack Beckman