SCELZI CHASES FIRST U.S. NATIONALS WIN IN FUNNY CAR FRESNO, Calif. (Aug. 26, 2008) - Four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series champion Gary Scelzi holds an impressive list of accomplishments, besides his four crowns: He's won 37 national...
SCELZI CHASES FIRST U.S. NATIONALS WIN IN FUNNY CAR
FRESNO, Calif. (Aug. 26, 2008) - Four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series champion Gary Scelzi holds an impressive list of accomplishments, besides his four crowns: He's won 37 national events in 58 final rounds, was the first Funny Car driver to break the 330-mph barrier, won his first Top Fuel crown as a rookie, and is the only NHRA driver to have won in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car.
And, even with with all that he has achieved, the driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T has not won the prestigious U.S. Nationals in the Funny Car class. His solo victory at this event came in Top Fuel, in 1998.
"It's time," he says. He's out of the hunt for a fifth championship this season, having missed a berth in the Countdown to 1 playoffs, but he's ready to "wreak havoc" on the rest of his competitors in the class as he prepares for this weekend's 54th annual U.S. Nationals with a new crew chief on board, stepping in for ailing tuner Todd Okuhara, and high hopes.
"We've got Richard Hogan tuning the car, who has been in the shop for a week, going through, refining, trying to find a combination that he will be comfortable with," says Scelzi. "He's working with Todd, he's working with Phil (Shuler, tuner of Rockstar Energy Drink Dodge), John Collins, our assistant crew chief, and everybody on the Don Schumacher Racing team.
"Everybody seems to be upbeat and going in a good direction. It's risky doing this before the U.S. Nationals. It's great that you've got an extra qualifying session (five in all), but you’ve also got a bunch of cars coming and everyone is trying to be a hero, and so are we.
"We know we can't win the POWERade championship so our plan now is to try to salvage the year by winning the U.S. Nationals.
"There's been a lot of changes, a lot of things going on. Hopefully we can get a handle on it all and cause havoc on all these guys who are going to be in the Countdown.
"One thing that I'm really excited about is (sons) Dominic (11) and Giovanni (6) are leaving with me today to head back to Indy," adds Scelzi, a Fresno, Calif., native. "We love Indianapolis. We have a lot of friends there and the boys and I are going to play with go-karts, we're going to go to a friend's house and do some swimming, go to some neat restaurants and just have a great time before Mom (Julie) gets in on Thursday night.
"So, hopefully the motor home won't be a disaster by the time she gets there and all of us will be in one piece and ready to race on Friday."