Bristol: Gary Scelzi preview

It's crunch time for Oakley's Scelzi at Bristol. BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 21, 2003) -- It's only April and just five races into the 2003 POWERade Drag Racing Series' scheduled 23 events, but Gary Scelzi and his Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus R/T ...

It's crunch time for Oakley's Scelzi at Bristol.

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 21, 2003) -- It's only April and just five races into the 2003 POWERade Drag Racing Series' scheduled 23 events, but Gary Scelzi and his Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car team know it's crunch time as they head to Bristol, Tenn., for the sixth event of the season at Bristol Dragway this weekend. His goal: to get back in the top 10 in the point standings.

"Things went so smoothly in the beginning," says the three-time Top Fuel champion, now full-time in one of Don Schumacher Racing's Funny Cars, "and we had such a consistent race car and we raced very well. But we started to have a few problems in Gainesville (third event) and Las Vegas (fourth event), obviously, where we had the catastrophic explosion. We tested after Vegas and again after Houston last week, and we learned what parts we needed to have.

"So, sink, swim or go for your gun, we have to use these new tools and get going." Scelzi has been as high as seventh in the point standings; he now stands in 11th.

The picturesque Bristol Dragway is a favorite of Scelzi's. "It's a beautiful race course," he says. "You're up in the middle of the mountains and you can hear the echo of the fuel cars off the mountains. It's a really neat place to race. But it's a tricky race track. It's not a bumpy race track, and it's a well-lit race track. And, if it rains here, (track owner) Bruton Smith's got great drainage, so it dries out. When we were here for the Winston Showdown and it poured, I remember thinking there's no way we're going to race, and like two hours later they were running cars."

With crew chief Mike Neff and the team just off a two-weekend stretch of racing in Las Vegas and in Houston, with a weekend off for Easter, they're facing two more back-to-back races in Bristol and Atlanta. "You're starting to feel the grind with the back-to-back races," says Scelzi, a Fresno, Calif., native. "And now we're going right to Atlanta after Bristol. Hopefully, the weather won't be an issue and we won't have to redo any of these races. Because weather can be a factor at both race tracks.

"We've had a few hiccups, we've had a few problems, but we have a really good race car and now's the time that we need to make it count. Between the next two races, when we're done after Atlanta, we'll hopefully be solidly in the top 10, we'll have a race car that responds and we'll be making our charge to the front."

Nitro qualifying is scheduled for Friday, April 25, at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET, and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 26. Final eliminations begin at 12 noon ET on Sunday, April 27.

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Don Schumacher , Mike Neff