FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 MOPAR PARTS MILE-HIGH NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Rolling along: The Top Fuel dragster owned and tuned by Alan Johnson has won at least one round of eliminations at the...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761
MOPAR PARTS MILE-HIGH NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Rolling along: The Top Fuel dragster owned and tuned by Alan Johnson has won at least one round of eliminations at the last 29 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series national events in which it was raced in eliminations. Gary Scelzi has advanced to at least the semifinals at all 11 races this season in the Team Winston Dragster owned and tuned by Johnson. Scelzi, a rookie from Fresno, Calif., leads the NHRA Winston standings by 175 points over second-place Joe Amato. Scelzi has won four races and has appeared in seven final rounds. "I don't want to sound like a broken record when I keep saying that we know this streak is going to end, but we know the season can't go on like this forever," Scelzi said. "The thing I'm enjoying most right now is that I know my driving is improving enough that Alan can count on me. Let's face it, there are some unbelievable drivers out there, and I'm just starting to get to their level." Mike Dunn thinks it will be quite a chore for any driver to catch Scelzi for the NHRA Winston championship. "It's going to be tough," Dunn said. "I don't think anyone will. They're so consistent. "Amato is going to have to keep doing good, and Scelzi would have to fall apart. I can see Joe continuing to do well, but I can't see Scelzi falling apart. They have too much talent over there and know how to get a car down a racetrack." *Misleading: Sometimes the numbers do lie in NHRA Winston Drag Racing. Take the performance numbers of Joe Amato this season, for example. Amato has qualified No. 1 at six events, posted the top speed at five events and recorded the low elapsed time at seven events, leading those performance categories in Top Fuel. He is tied with Gary Scelzi with four victories. But Amato, from Old Forge, Pa., still is second in the NHRA Winston point standings, 175 points behind Scelzi. The one stat that doesn't lie when it comes to Amato and his Keystone Automotive Warehouse Dragster is four first-round losses. Scelzi has advanced to at least the semifinals at all 11 races this season in the Team Winston Dragster. *The air up there: Mike Dunn insists that he has little problem acclimating to the 5,830-foot altitude of Bandimere Speedway, but his Team Mopar crew sometimes tires more easily earlier in the event due to the thin air. "I usually run every morning at an event," Dunn said. "I don't really notice it. Maybe the first day. But I don't run that hard anymore because I'm getting old. Plus, if I got lightheaded, who would be able to tell? I'm a driver. I'm supposed to be a little bit nuts. "The crew guys notice it because they're working hard. Their demand for oxygen is more than a guy who stands around signing autographs." *Truckin': Mike Dunn will return to his roots during the three-event Western swing that starts at Bandimere by taking a turn behind the wheel of the Team Mopar 18-wheel trailer en route to the next races at Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle. The Autolite Nationals are July 25-27 at Sonoma, and the Northwest Nationals are Aug. 1-3 at Seattle. Dunn drove team trailers often earlier during his career. "I'll stay on the road for three weeks," Dunn said. "It doesn't make sense to fly home for two days. I'll drive the truck for an hour to say yeah, I can still do it, and then go sleep in the van." *Strong track record: It's no secret that Bandimere Speedway is one of Mike Dunn's favorite tracks. After all, he won this event in 1993 and was runner-up to Scott Kalitta in 1994. "It's also a beautiful time of year out there," Dunn said. "It can get kind of hot in Denver, but at least it's dry. In the Midwest and East it gets pretty warm this time of the year, and the humidity is tough." Dunn, a California native, lives in Wrightsville, Pa. *Quite the sensation: Top Fuel driver Shelly Anderson often has described the sensation of driving a Top Fuel dragster as similar to having a bowling ball thrust into your chest for nearly five seconds. Driver Gary Scelzi put his spin on the physical demands of driving a quarter-mile in 4.6 seconds. "I know it's a good run because it hurts me," Scelzi said. "The car just pushes you so far back into the seat that it actually hurts your tailbone. I'll deal with the pain anytime, though." The engine of a Top Fuel dragster generates between 5,500 and 6,000 horsepower, launching the car and driver from the starting line with a force five times that of gravity. That's the same force as the space shuttle leaving the launching pad at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Top Fuel dragsters accelerate from 0 to 100 mph in 0.9 seconds. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 4 p.m. July 18 and continues at 8 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. July 19. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. July 20. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 2 p.m. July 17. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Call Bandimere Speedway at (303) 697-6001. Tickets also are available at Ticketmaster outlets. All seats are reserved. *On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of live, final-round competition from the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at 4:30 p.m. (MDT) July 20. ESPN2 also will show two hours of live, Friday-night qualifying at 8 p.m. (MDT) July 18. -30-