Pomona: Gary Scelzi preview

Wild Thing Scelzi rip-roaring....... POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 8, 2005) - The man known as "Wild Thing" in his hometown of Fresno, Calif., and who shows no shame by dressing up in a nun's habit to go Trick or Treating on Halloween for ESPN2's ...

Wild Thing Scelzi rip-roaring.......

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 8, 2005) - The man known as "Wild Thing" in his hometown of Fresno, Calif., and who shows no shame by dressing up in a nun's habit to go Trick or Treating on Halloween for ESPN2's "Scelzi Says" features, is back and buckling up his holster for the championship shoot-out in the Funny Car class of the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Bolstered by the momentum he and crew chief Mike Neff gained at the end of the 2004 season, Gary Scelzi is rip-roaring ready to take his Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car into the winner's circle at this weekend's CARQUEST Car Parts Winternationals en route to reaching his goal of winning his first Funny Car championship on top of three Top Fuel crowns (1997, '98, '00).

"I'm really really, ready to get this new season going, because of the momentum we had from last year," said Scelzi, who reached the final round in three of the last eight races, won two of them, and moved into a battle for second place with Del Worsham at the final race. "In the back half of last year we were as good as anybody."

He ended the year in third place, winning three events (all against 13-time champion, friend and rival John Force) in six final rounds - his best year-end result since he entered the Funny Car class full-time in 2003.

Following successful pre-season testing at The Strip in Las Vegas and Firebird Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., Scelzi is set to roll and regain the speed record he shattered in 2004. "We didn't make any major changes for 2005, but we made some subtle changes and refined the combination," said Scelzi, who was the first in Funny Car to break the 330-mph barrier last year with his 330.55 mph run at Route 66 Raceway.

"We were able to get the car to go down the track at will during testing. It seems like we have a very safe qualifying tune-up, which is so important. You need to get the car in the show on the first run so after that you can experiment and try to pick up the pace and possibly try to set elapsed-time records, 'cause there's always those 20 bonus points for ET records." (There are no bonus points for speed records.)

"It's an all-new car, an all-new Oakley 'Snow Camo' paint job, and all the guys are revved up," he added. "It's been a short winter, but it's been a good one and now it's time to see if the work we did over the winter paid off."

Scelzi's record on this Southern California quarter-mile includes three pro national event wins, four No. 1 qualifiers and three runner-up finishes, all in the Top Fuel class. "I've had a lot of success at Pomona in my Alcohol days and in my professional career, he said. "We won three Bud Shootouts and several races here. I won my first Alcohol national event here in 1985. I've got a lot of great memories of this place, it's a great race track. Now I'm ready to win my first Funny Car race here."

-dsr-

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