Joliet: Gary Scelzi preview

SCELZI SET FOR MOVE UP THE RANKS IN CHICAGO JOLIET, Ill. (June 8, 2005) - Gary Scelzi, who moved up six spots in three races this year in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings, is in the middle of a five-car battle for...

SCELZI SET FOR MOVE UP THE RANKS IN CHICAGO

JOLIET, Ill. (June 8, 2005) - Gary Scelzi, who moved up six spots in three races this year in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings, is in the middle of a five-car battle for second place as the series comes to the super-smooth, ultra-fast Route 66 Raceway for this weekend's CARQUEST NHRA Nationals.

The Fresno, Calif., native, who was second after eight races driving the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, is now a close third following a second-round loss at Heartland Park Topeka on Memorial Day weekend. He's just 12 points out of second place, and 139 short of No. 1 John Force.

With three Top Fuel championships to his credit, Scelzi is seeking his first Funny Car crown after switching to that class in 2002. His Mopar/Oakley Dodge, tuned by Mike Neff, has been a rocket going down the quarter-mile, having set top speed 15 times since Scelzi joined DSR in 2003.

Route 66 Raceway was where Scelzi became the first Funny Car driver to break the 330-mph mark in 2004, and is famous for the record-breaking runs set here. But with a number of NHRA rules changes since then, including a mandatory rev limiter, can Scelzi hit that magic mark again this weekend? "This new rev limiter has come into play," he said, "but we think we can run 330."

Winning, however, and a strong move up in the points is the goal. "We think we can do well here," said Scelzi, who won Top Fuel at Route 66 in 2000 and was runner-up in 1998 and 2001. "We sure would like to win in Chicago, since it's (team owner) Don Schumacher's home town.

"The Mopar/Oakley Dodge is running well. We just had that hiccup in Topeka and hopefully we're going to get through those problems. We have a POWERade championship contender and we just have to execute and that's what we're going to try to do."

Route 66 this weekend marks the start of a second three-race swing. "We're evaluating everything in threes," said Scelzi. "This is the beginning, so we would really like to start it off like we've done in the others: get to at least the semifinals, and hopefully if we win enough of those we're going to win some more finals too."

Scelzi has one win (Bristol) in two final rounds so far in 2005.

"We're still in the hunt. We're third in points. We're less than one round out of second, and we need to stop the big green machine of John Force. That's what everybody needs to do. Only so much of it is in our hands. We need (teammate Whit) Bazemore and we need (teammate Ron) Capps to do their jobs and the other teams. We've got to get him early.

"That's what needs to start happening right now; otherwise we're going to have a runaway and he's going to be the champion again for the umpteenth time."

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Scelzi , Don Schumacher , Mike Neff