Scelzi's hit list includes second U.S. Nationals win INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 25, 2003) - Winning the U.S. Nationals for an NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series driver is akin to a driver named Unser winning the Indy 500 or Jeff Gordon the Daytona 500....
Scelzi's hit list includes second U.S. Nationals win
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 25, 2003) - Winning the U.S. Nationals for an NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series driver is akin to a driver named Unser winning the Indy 500 or Jeff Gordon the Daytona 500. It's huge. And now that Gary Scelzi has his first NHRA Fuel Funny Car season win under his belt in his Oakley Dodge Stratus, and one U.S. Nationals victory already in Top Fuel (in 1998), he's aiming for a second "Wally" at this prestigious event this weekend.
"It's the biggest race of the year and everyone brings all their bullets and all their guns a-blazing," says the Fresno, Calif., resident who also has 25 Top Fuel victories on his racing resume. "When you go through this field it doesn't matter where you qualify. If you get through this field on Monday you've accomplished something."
Winning one U.S. Nationals title is a crowning achievement. Not many drivers can claim they have done that, but to notch a second one would earn you entry into an elite group. "This would be a big one," says Scelzi, the fastest Funny Car driver on the planet, with his 328.06 mph national record he set in Joliet this year.
"If you don't win any races all year long and you win the U.S. Nationals this is the one that you want to win. It's an old race, it's a prestigious race. It has so much meaning and so much history behind it. As soon as you pull into the gates on Thursday night the hair stands up on your arms. This is the one. If you've got anything for them, this is the place to show it."
An NHRA-sponsored testing session was held on the Indianapolis Raceway Park quarter-mile last week in preparation for this weekend's event, where Scelzi, eighth in Funny Car point standings, posted a healthy 4.823/318.02 pass, an encouraging result. Weather at this time of year, however, is still an issue.
"We feel that we're pretty good," he says. "But we're still a little shaky in hot weather. So who knows what kind of weather we're going to have this coming weekend. But we've learned a lot of things over the test session in Chicago and over the test session in Indy. It was 90-95 degrees and we learned a lot of things. If the weather is cool I think we can swing the bat just as hard as anybody. If it's hot I'm not sure what combination we're going to go with. We're going to try the new combination and if it doesn't work on Saturday on the 3:30 p.m. session then we're going to go back to the tried-and-true setup on Sunday, and get a couple of runs in the daylight."