Reading: Gary Scelzi preview

SCELZI ON HOT SEAT FOR READING READING, Pa. (Sept. 13, 2005) - Gary Scelzi is on the hot seat in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship chase as the circus unfurls its tents this weekend at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals ...

SCELZI ON HOT SEAT FOR READING

READING, Pa. (Sept. 13, 2005) - Gary Scelzi is on the hot seat in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship chase as the circus unfurls its tents this weekend at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. The three-time Top Fuel champion is leading the Funny Car point standings for the first time since he joined the class in 2002, by a single point.

With only five races left of the 2005 season, the driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car has already made it into the history books after his semifinal finish at the prestigious U.S. Nationals on Labor Day in Indianapolis. He became the first non-John Force Racing driver to leave the U.S. Nationals in the Funny Car points lead since 1990.

On top of that, the NHRA record books show that since 1983 the Funny Car driver who left the U.S. Nationals in the lead won the championship every time except one. In 1992 Force left Indy with the lead and Cruz Pedregon won the championship.

The Fresno, Calif., native is in a good place right now, he believes, as he returns to Maple Grove as the defending Funny Car champion and a two-time Top Fuel winner here.

"One point obviously doesn't mean anything," he says. "That could be taken care of in qualifying. And the guy behind me in second (Robert Hight) is the king of qualifying right now.

"Buit the good news is that we're coming to Reading, Pa., as the defending event champion. Our Mopar/Oakley Dodge team has always run well here. I've run well here in the dragster as well, so it's a race track that's been pretty kind to me.

"You look for any advantage you possibly could have and I've won this race twice in Top Fuel and once in Funny Car, and I was a Top Fuel runner-up once.

"I've been to four finals and won three of them. It's also good thing to know that I've done well at the last five race tracks we'll be racing at to the end of the season.

"It's just good to be a part of this thing. You just can't make any mistakes right now. (Crew chief) Mike Neff had a team meeting the other day. He said he can't make mistakes, the driver can't make mistakes and the team can't make mistakes. We can't have bolts falling out, we can't have parts breaking, we have to really look at every single thing we're doing, more so now than ever, if we want to be the POWERade champions.

"I think everybody is focused, everybody is on the same page and we'll just go see what fate has for us."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Cruz Pedregon , Robert Hight , Mike Neff