SCELZI IN EXCITING CHASE, HAS SIGHTS SET ON DALLAS WIN DALLAS (Sept. 21, 2005) - Gary Scelzi is in the middle of an exciting championship chase for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car crown, with just four races left. After taking the...
SCELZI IN EXCITING CHASE, HAS SIGHTS SET ON DALLAS WIN
DALLAS (Sept. 21, 2005) - Gary Scelzi is in the middle of an exciting championship chase for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car crown, with just four races left. After taking the Funny Car lead for the first time in his career following the U.S. Nationals by one point, he is now enjoying a 26-point margin over Robert Hight after his semifinal finish in Reading, Pa., on Sunday.
It's not much of a cushion and Scelzi knows it as the circus comes to the O'Reilly NHRA Nationals at the Texas Motorplex this weekend, but he finds the challenge of dethroning either 13-time Funny Car champion John Force or a John Force team member empowering.
"It is exciting," says Scelzi, who is seeking his first Funny Car championship to go with his three Top Fuel titles. "One, because it's Funny Car, and, two, to dethrone any one of Force's cars that have had such a command on the Funny Car championship over the years is a big thing.
"What I found in Reading was that the more nervous I got the better I felt. It was a change. Yes, I was edgy, I was nervous, but I was enjoying it. I was enjoying the challenge and I was enjoying the pressure.
"It was almost to the point where now the nervousness is making me want to fight more, like dig deeper and say, You know what? You can win championships, you've done it before, you love this stuff - just keep telling yourself over and over.
"And it was working. So, if Dallas is anything like Reading was, my mindset is ready to go the distance. And I think (crew chief) Mike Neff, the way he's been tuning the car, shows he's ready to go the distance."
The Fresno, Calif., native is also looking forward to a good track surface at the Texas Motorplex. "Dallas has been ground, which has taken some bumps out of the surface, which should be really good," he says.
"The only problem is it's supposed to be close to 100 degrees then taper off to the 80s. And we don't know what the weather is going to do. But, being that it's all concrete, it's going to be 10 degrees cooler than any asphalt race track. So it should be good no matter what the weather or the temperature is, all the way to the finish line.
"And I'm sure grinding the bumps out is also going to help keep the Goodyear tires stick. So we should be able to, hopefully, perform like we did in Maple Grove.
"Every race from here until the end of the season will be a challenge. The important thing is to at least get to the finals. It's not 'get past the first round or get to the semis.' You need to get to the final round in case it is one of your (championship) opponents, because you're only going to lose 20 points in that case.
"The whole idea is to win the race. Our goal is the same: qualify well and get the job done at the end. We didn't get that done in Reading, but we were close. If it weren't for a parts failure, I think we had a real good shot at winning the race."
Scelzi's record at the Texas Motorplex includes three Top Fuel wins (1998 2, 1999 and 2000) and three No. 1 Top Fuel qualifiers (1998, 2000 1 and 2). He has not won a Fuel Funny Car event here.