SCELZI SEEKS FIRST U.S. NATIONALS WIN IN FUNNY CAR CLERMONT, Ind. (Aug. 29, 2006) - Four-time NHRA world champion Gary Scelzi is the 1998 Top Fuel U.S. Nationals winner, but the reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion has...
SCELZI SEEKS FIRST U.S. NATIONALS WIN IN FUNNY CAR
CLERMONT, Ind. (Aug. 29, 2006) - Four-time NHRA world champion Gary Scelzi is the 1998 Top Fuel U.S. Nationals winner, but the reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion has not won this prestigious event since joining the Funny Car class full-time in 2003.
The driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T, who has 33 career national-event wins to his credit (eight in Funny Car), hopes to change that this weekend at O'Reilly Raceway Park. At the same time, he'll be vying for the $100,000 prize to win the Skoal Showdown bonus event. Scelzi is making his third appearance in the Showdown, which he has not won. He's qualified fourth and will face Tommy Johnson Jr. in the first round.
"This is a big race," Scelzi says. "We're running a brand-new car that we tested with at ORP last week. We switched just because the other car had 100 runs on it. We got the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger to go down the track at least 75 percent of the time, no matter what the track temperature was, so that was encouraging.
"We're in the Skoal Showdown, we have a lot of positives going into this event, and we have a lot of opportunities.
"Besides being the oldest, most prestigious race going, the U.S. Nationals has made a lot of guys' careers who have never won championships."
Scelzi is currently seventh in the Funny Car rankings after struggling earlier in the year, 275 points out of the lead, and concedes that he has little chance to repeat as Funny Car champion. "It's pretty obvious that we're not going to win a championship this year," says the Fresno, Calif., native, "so it would be a great way to cap off the season with an Indy win.
"I feel good about it. I think testing was positive. We learned a lot of things, we're coming in here with a tried-and-true combination, we're not making any changes, and hopefully Indy will be kind to us."