St. Louis: Gary Scelzi preview

WINNINGEST ST. LOUIS DRAG RACER SCELZI WANTS TO ADD TO TOTAL FRESNO, Calif. (May 2, 2007) - Four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series world champion Gary Scelzi is the winningest professional drag racer at Gateway International Raceway. The ...

WINNINGEST ST. LOUIS DRAG RACER SCELZI WANTS TO ADD TO TOTAL

FRESNO, Calif. (May 2, 2007) - Four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series world champion Gary Scelzi is the winningest professional drag racer at Gateway International Raceway. The driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car is looking to add to that tally at this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals.

With four victories notched on Gateway's quarter-mile, located outside of St. Louis in Madison, Ill., just over the Mississippi River separating Missouri from Illinois, that's one more than any other NHRA pro driver. Scelzi has three Top Fuel triumphs here (2000, '99 and '98) and one Funny Car win (2004).

"I guess I'm the winningest NHRA pro driver at this track, and trust me this Mopar/Oakley Dodge team needs to win this weekend," said Scelzi, who has scored one victory this season in six national events and is fifth in the Funny Car rankings. "We're running in the daylight, so that's going to be a little different. The temperatures won't be near as hot as they normally are and we'll see if we can't get another win in Funny Car."

Scelzi holds both Funny Car elapsed-time and top-speed track records at Gateway (4.724 seconds, 330.23 mph), set in 2004 in an emotional victory following the death of Darrell Russell at the same event.

"Definitely the hardest win I've ever had was in St. Louis when I found out before the semis that Darrell Russell had passed away," said Scelzi, who's earned three career Top Fuel crowns and one Funny Car championship. "And then to have to go ahead and race the semis, win that, go to the final, and then win that, while trying to keep up your concentration level, was definitely a test to figure out what you're made of."

As for the expected cooler conditions with the event re-scheduled to over a month earlier and changed from a night race to a standard weekend schedule: "I don't think anybody really knows how good the track is or bad it is because we never ran there under good conditions. But, we did run those records in 2004, so evidently the track can handle good numbers. We'll just see what the numbers bring and maybe Friday night will show it. But, normally, when the sun comes out, and we're getting into the summer months, race tracks won't hold those good numbers. We'll see."

Scelzi's other Gateway successes include a TF runner-up in 1997, and No. 1 qualifying efforts in 1997, '99, and '01 in Top Fuel, and in Funny Car in 2004 and '05. Last year he qualified No. 8 and reached the semifinals.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi