Columbus: Gary Scelzi preview

SCELZI'S MOPAR/OAKLEY DODGE BACK IN SHAPE, READY FOR OHIO HEBRON, Ohio (May 18, 2005) - The Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car driven by Gary Scelzi survived an explosion in the opening round of eliminations at Atlanta Dragway last weekend.

SCELZI'S MOPAR/OAKLEY DODGE BACK IN SHAPE, READY FOR OHIO

HEBRON, Ohio (May 18, 2005) - The Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car driven by Gary Scelzi survived an explosion in the opening round of eliminations at Atlanta Dragway last weekend. On-site repairs were made and Scelzi made it to the second round.

Under a tight schedule of three weekends of racing in a row, tuner Mike Neff and his crew are busy this week making sure the car is ready for this weekend's NHRA Nationals at National Trail Raceway, just east of Columbus, Ohio.

"What happened in that first round," said Scelzi, who lost the second round, but actually made ground in the points championship, "is that it broke the bottom of the fuel pump off and when it did that it backfired the supercharger. It kind of put us in a little bit of a bind, because the fuel pump we had to put on was flowed but untested and the supercharger wasn't quite as good as the one we had on there.

"So we kind of guessed at the tune-up a little bit for the second round. It dropped a cylinder at about 1000 feet and we just kind of got our butts kicked. But it did go down the race track, so we're encouraged.

"Everything worked, the computer worked, after that fire. The guys are now at the Don Schumacher Racing shop in Indy making sure everything is the same, that the new supercharger is close to the old one, the fuel pump is close and everything is ironed out.

"We also re-scaled the car because the car drove a whole lot differently after that explosion. So we're just checking everything to make sure it's right."

Although Scelzi fell from fourth to fifth place in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings after last week, he actually gained two points on the lead. He is now just 61 points behind leader John Force. A strong result here at National Trail Raceway, where Scelzi was Funny Car runner-up in 2004 and Top Fuel winner in 1997, could easily re-arrange the point standings as the teams head to Topeka, Kans., for the last event of the three-race swing.

"I don't see any hiccups coming into Columbus," said the three-time Top Fuel champion who is seeking his first Funny Car crown. "It looks like the weather is going to be fairly cool. It should be good. The track was re-paved last year, and it was pretty decent at the 2004 event. We have good history here and good records here. This Mopar/Oakley Dodge should be right in the middle of the points race.

"And the good news is that even though we dropped one spot in points, we're only 61 points out of the lead. So we're a little closer, everybody is tighter bunched, and it should b exciting for the fans."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Scelzi , Don Schumacher