Denver: Gary Scelzi preview

Scelzi ready to move up the charts at Mopar Mile-High NHRA Natonals MORRISON, Colo. (July 14, 2004) - When Gary Scelzi won the last NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event at Gateway International Raceway he jumped from sixth to fourth in the...

Scelzi ready to move up the charts at Mopar Mile-High NHRA Natonals

MORRISON, Colo. (July 14, 2004) - When Gary Scelzi won the last NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event at Gateway International Raceway he jumped from sixth to fourth in the Funny Car point standings and right into the middle of a four-car battle for the lead. He's just 89 points out of first place heading into this weekend's Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. A good result here with his HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car could see an even further leap up the charts.

Altitude and heat are always at the core of discussions regarding this event outside of Denver, Colo., but the Fresno native has the utmost confidence in his team and crew chief Mike Neff's tune-up for the conditions, now that they've made a turnaround in their performance after struggling earlier in the season.

"I don't have any concerns at all about going to Denver," said Scelzi, whose best results at Bandimere include qualifying No. 1 twice in Top Fuel (2000, 2001). "I think it's time to change our luck here. My big concern right now is this new Goodyear tire and how big of a curve ball it's going to throw our tune-up. The only thing I feel positive about is that we've had three different tires this year and we've been able to make each one work in a relatively short amount of time. So, I'm hoping the same will hold true for this new tire."

The Mopar Mile-High Nationals begin a three-race back-to-back West Coast swing. "Last year in Denver is where we turned our program around for 2003," he added. "Even though we were beat first round by Tim Wilkerson - we ran a 5.13, he ran a 5.10 - we finally found something that we were able to address. We carried that on to Seattle and we were No. 1 qualifier and ran extremely well. And then we went to Infineon Raceway and won that race. We came back and were No. 1 qualifier in Brainerd, Minn. The way I'm looking at it now, our season turned around three races earlier this year than it did last year.

"Fortunately, for us," remarked Scelzi, who became the first Funny Car driver to break the 330-mph barrier when he demolished his own previous national top-speed record at Route 66 Raceway this year with a 330.55-mph run, backed up by a 330.15-mph pass, "we're right in the hunt of the POWERade championship. So I feel really good about going into the West Coast swing."

With Mopar backing this event, Scelzi would love to present his sponsor a winner's trophy here. "It's always good to do well at your sponsor's race," he said, "and I can't think of a better time to have a turnaround going into a race than at one that's sponsored by Mopar. With all the big brass here from Mopar, and even from Gates Belts, which is based in Colorado, we're going to have a lot of sponsorship people here. It will be almost like a hometown race.

"I feel really good about our chances."

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Tim Wilkerson , Mike Neff