Las Vegas II: Gary Scelzi preview

It's time to win Vegas, Scelzi says LAS VEGAS (Oct. 26, 2004) - Flying high from his triumph over John Force at Maple Grove Raceway on Oct. 10, Gary Scelzi has momentum on his side and is energized to wrap up the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing...

It's time to win Vegas, Scelzi says

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 26, 2004) - Flying high from his triumph over John Force at Maple Grove Raceway on Oct. 10, Gary Scelzi has momentum on his side and is energized to wrap up the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series by winning the last two Funny Car races of the year, beginning with this weekend's ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas.

While America is scratching its collective head as to who will be the next president of the United States, it's pretty clear that John Force will clinch his 13th Funny Car championship at Las Vegas by simply qualifying. The battle to watch is the one that's heating up for second place among Scelzi, Del Worsham, Whit Bazemore, Eric Medlen and Gary Densham.

"The season is winding down, but it's like we have a new energy now," said Scelzi, driver of the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus who won his second event of the year at Maple Grove, and the third of his short Funny Car career. "We're trying to finish second, we're trying to win some more races, we're coming off a great weekend in Reading (Pa.), our spirits are high, and we've got some momentum going. Now it's time to win Vegas. I've never won in Vegas, other than at the old race track when they had the divisional races there.

"It's a great facility, it's a great race track."

Following NHRA's reduction of the allowable nitromethane to 85 percent from 90 earlier this year, Scelzi, who set a national top-speed record of 330.55 mph before the change, predicted it would take some time to return to those speeds. When John Force blew away Scelzi's record at the ultra-fast, super-smooth Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., on Oct. 3, with his blistering 333.58-mph pass, Scelzi and the entire NHRA community were stunned.

"I sure miss thinking we didn't have as much power as we did with 90 percent," said Scelzi, a three-time Top Fuel champion and the first Funny Car driver to break the 330-mph barrier. "Force made us all liars, running those great numbers that he did (including a 4.665-second ET national record). So we know that it's possible and we're going to go to Las Vegas and try to run those numbers.

"We're going to run the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge as hard as we possibly can and try to win the race.

"The weather conditions will be optimum and the track conditions will be perfect. We'll just have to see if we can pull it off."

With 20 points up for grabs for setting a national ET record, Scelzi, third in the standings, is looking for every point he can muster to finish off the season in second place. He's 36 points behind second-place Del Worsham and a relatively comfortable 105 points ahead of his teammate Whit Bazemore, 111 over Medlen, and has 124 more than Densham.

"There are 20 points on the table and I know Force has run 329 mph (under 90 percent nitro) here before, in testing, so I know that the numbers can happen," he added. "If we can get an ET record, that's 20 bonus points. If we can get this thing qualified well early, hopefully we can take a shot at it."

-dsr-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Eric Medlen