DEFENDING EVENT CHAMP SCELZI LOOKS TO REPEAT IN VIRGINIA FRESNO, Calif. (Oct. 8, 2008) - It's been a year since perennial top runner and four-time NHRA world champion Gary Scelzi has won a national event in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series....
DEFENDING EVENT CHAMP SCELZI LOOKS TO REPEAT IN VIRGINIA
FRESNO, Calif. (Oct. 8, 2008) - It's been a year since perennial top runner and four-time NHRA world champion Gary Scelzi has won a national event in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. It was at the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in 2007 where he claimed his 37th career victory in his 58th final round. The driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car hopes to repeat this weekend at the third annual event at VMP before he hangs up his helmet for an undetermined duration at the end of this season.
"It's my one-year anniversary of a win, which is like a ridiculously long dry spell for me," said Scelzi, whose team has struggled most of the 2008 season and is in unfamiliar territory in 14th in the point standings with three races remaining. "The good news is that in the last few races the performance of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge has improved and we qualified in the top half and won a round in Memphis two weeks ago, so hopefully we can do well again in Virginia.
"Nothing would be better than to repeat," added Scelzi who still holds the Top Fuel elapsed-time track record of 4.494 seconds at VMP, set in 1999, and the Funny Car top-speed track record of 319.22 mph, established last year. "It's always cool there and it's always cloudy, which makes the race track have a lot of bite. And, with what (crew chief) Richard Hogan has found out over the last few races, I think we can run pretty hard."
The Don Schumacher Racing crew-chief brain trust has been hard at work combining and sharing its data and talents among all four of the DSR Funny Cars to help improve the team's results since the NHRA's rule changes earlier this year. Adapting to new chassis, a new tire, the addition of extra weight, a change in the percentage of nitromethane used, and racing to 1000 feet instead of the usual 1320 feet, has been a challenge.
"It certainly shows improvement with Jerry Toliver running well (qualified No. 2 in Memphis), because we're running the same combination he and Jack Beckman (No. 2 in the point standings) are," said Scelzi. "So, with Toliver's performance and our performance last race, hopefully we can put something together and put a win on the board.
"We all want to win. It's been a horrible year. Richard Hogan is new to the group and I think we're onto something with Jack's combination, which is basically an old combination, but we've got the balance right on the cars now and it looks like we're going in the right direction."