Just call him lunch meat; Scelzi is on a roll POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 10, 2004) - Just call him "lunch meat" because the man is on a roll (pah-rum-pum!). Fresh from his second straight event victory against the 13-time Funny Car NHRA National ...
Just call him lunch meat; Scelzi is on a roll
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 10, 2004) - Just call him "lunch meat" because the man is on a roll (pah-rum-pum!). Fresh from his second straight event victory against the 13-time Funny Car NHRA National champion John Force, not to mention the third event win against him this year, Gary Scelzi is ready to finish off the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season with another win.
The driver of the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus is tied for second place in the standings with Del Worsham, and he'll have to go more rounds than Worsham at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals to end the year in that position.
"I'm just excited the season is over," said Scelzi, the three-time Top Fuel champion in only his second full term in the Funny Car class. "Everybody's wore out. We have one more good race left in us and that's Pomona."
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," said the Fresno native. "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."
Scelzi and crew chief Mike Neff started out the 2004 season in Pomona with great promise, then faltered through the first half of the year, until a turn-around at the 12th event in St. Louis, where the team began their win streak against Force and a rise back up in the standings. It was too late, however, to make up for lost points, and with Force coming on like a bullet train in the last half, it became even more challenging for Scelzi to nab his first Funny Car championship.
He came close, and, despite enjoying a 9-5 career round win-loss record so far against the newly-crowned champion Force, the battle is now between Scelzi and Worsham for the runner-up spot.
"I'm excited to have a shot at finishing second and going for our third win in a row," he said.
"It does pump up the adrenaline to have beaten Force all three times this year. But this is not the POWERade championship. This is for second place. The bonus money for the guys, it means a lot. It's a pretty big hit from second to third. I believe it's $50,000 difference.
"If it's not No. 1 on the car it doesn't mean a lot to me. But it does mean we did improve from last year. We have more wins than last year (three in 2004 so far, one in 2003), the team has really excelled here lately and it's a fun time of the year right now to be a part of all this and to have a car that can win any race you go to the gate in. Or pull through the gate and you know you can win the race and everybody else knows it."
Trying to beat his good friend Worsham will be fun, he said. "Del is just a great human being, he's a great driver.
"It's almost a shame that we're fighting for second and we're not having a three-way race for the POWERade championship. It's a big deal. It makes it more fun to race against someone you like than someone you don't like. And Del is just a good person. The whole family, from (dad) Chuck on down, are extremely good racers. I'm just a little sad that they found their stride when they did.
"It's going to be tough. Whoever finishes second will have earned it, no question about it, and it always feels better when you're in a battle for something rather than making it easy."