MADISON, Ill. - Gary Scelzi has no problems competing as the Winston points leader.
Hey, it's what he does.
Scelzi, 39, is atop the point standings with four victories this season, ahead of top challengers Tony Schumacher, the defending Winston champion, who sits 32 points back in second and third place Larry Dixon, who trails by 84.
Scelzi, unlike other racers, says there's no pressure with being the guy out front. In fact, he's very comfortable there. He'd rather lead the way than try to chase a runaway leader.
"This is the position I want to be in," said Scelzi, who will try to add to his 18 career victories at the fourth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 22-24, at Gateway International Raceway. He has won the last two events at the $1.8 million race, the 12th of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
"Everybody says being chased is a tough deal," Scelzi added. "Baloney. I want to be chased." Scelzi moved in front of season-long leader Schumacher at the recent event in Chicago, when the Fresno, Calif. racer overcame tremendous odds to win. Scelzi was uninjured following a spectacular crash during qualifying, however the car received major damage. Scelzi and his Team Winston crew quickly regrouped and fielded the team's backup car and went on to win the race. "I'm a little in awe that we did win that race," Scelzi said. "After all that happened it was quite a feat. I didn't know whether to cry or fall down to be honest. I knew the (backup) car was good and after the wreck I was never nervous about getting in the cockpit and stepping on the gas. The job my team and Alan Johnson (crew chief) did is nothing short of amazing. We're officially back. I extended my points lead and we're still No. 1." And that's where Scelzi hopes he remains until season's end.