Topeka: Gary Scelzi preview

Scelzi says Topeka fast track. How fast? TOPEKA, Kans. (May 26, 2004) - Gary Scelzi, who re-established the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car national top-speed record last week in Joliet with a 330.55-mph pass (backed up by a...

Scelzi says Topeka fast track. How fast?

TOPEKA, Kans. (May 26, 2004) - Gary Scelzi, who re-established the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car national top-speed record last week in Joliet with a 330.55-mph pass (backed up by a 330.15-mph lap) and became the first Funny Car driver to break the 330-mph barrier, thinks Heartland Park Topeka just may be good enough to surpass that mark. But how good?

"Topeka is another one of those race tracks that could be extremely fast," said the driver of the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus. "I don't know if it's as good as Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, but it is certainly not a bad race track.

"I know we've run records here before. It's where I broke the Top Fuel record for most wins in a season, which was six at the time (Cory McClenathan, 1998). I won No. 7 (of nine) there back in 2000," said the three-time Top Fuel champion in his second full season of Funny Car competition.

"So Topeka's been pretty good. It's also where I had my first major Top Fuel accident. It's got good memories and bad memories. But it's a a great, fast race track. They fill the stands; the fans come from Kansas City, they come from all over. The fans are pretty starved for drag racing so we always get a good, packed house. We think we'll do well here."

It's been a tough grind for the drivers and teams, as they arrive in Topeka for the last of a three-race swing before they begin another three-race jaunt following a weekend off. Scelzi is in the midst of a 10-car battle for the Funny Car championship. He's seventh and just 127 points behind points leader and teammate Whit Bazemore, and anything can happen in one race.

"We're looking at everything like it's the last race," said the Fresno native. "There are four races left in this six-race swing and we're counting every point. Topeka is just as critical as Pomona (season opener) was and just as critical as Joliet is going to be when we go back there in the fall. Were counting, we're watching and we're trying to pay attention and we're trying not to let things happen like happened last weekend in Joliet," he added, referring to his first-round exit because of an ignition problem.

"We've got a good race car, we know we do, and so does everyone else, so they won't take us lightly."

Two qualifying rounds for the Nitro classes will be held Friday, May 28, at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., and on Saturday, May 29, at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin on Sunday, May 30, at 11 a.m.

On Saturday, May 29, ESPN will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. (ET). On Sunday, May 30, ESPN2 will televise two hours of eliminations at 4 p.m. (ET). On Sunday, May 30, ESPN2 will televise NHRA 2Day, a 30-minute magazine show at 11:30 a.m. (ET).

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi