Las Vegas II: Scelzi looking to break Bernstein's streak

LAS VEGAS - Gary Scelzi is going back to Las Vegas in hopes of walking away a big winner. He's not there to gamble - unless you consider being strapped into a 6,000 horsepower, nitromethane-burning dragster a gamble. He's there to race. The Team...

LAS VEGAS - Gary Scelzi is going back to Las Vegas in hopes of walking away a big winner. He's not there to gamble - unless you consider being strapped into a 6,000 horsepower, nitromethane-burning dragster a gamble. He's there to race.

The Team Winston Top Fuel driver has a few things he is aiming to accomplish before the season ends in November. Right now Scelzi - already a three-time Top Fuel champion - is fifth on the all-time Top Fuel win list with 25 while Cory McClenathan is fourth with 26. The top three are Joe Amato (52), Don Garlits (35) and Kenny Bernstein (30).

"I'd like to move ahead of Cory on the all-time list," Scelzi said. "If it's possible, I'd like to be fourth on that list. It's pretty amazing what we have been able to accomplish in (the five years of) my professional career. We've already done so many things that were surprising to me that it wouldn't surprise me if we could pull this off too."

Scelzi and the rest of the NHRA drivers are going to try their luck once again at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the inaugural ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Oct. 25-28. The $1.9 million race is the 23rd of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

This is the first year The Strip has played host to a second NHRA national event. The first ever NHRA-sanctioned race was in 2000. The second was held in April. Bernstein seemingly has a good grip on the track, winning both Top Fuel titles in Las Vegas and setting the track record in his Budweiser King Dragster with a time of 4.524 seconds at 325.61 mph.

"(Bernstein's) car isn't any quicker than ours, but they have been so consistent just like Larry Dixon. That is why they are (first and second in the points race, respectively)," Scelzi said. "It doesn't matter what the conditions are like, both of those cars have a great tune-up for hot weather and cool weather. We match them power-wise, but we need to match them with their consistency."

Scelzi likes the idea of going to a track that promotes extreme speeds and record-setting times. He would like the track even better if he got the first win for Team Winston there.

"Whenever you go to a facility you know there is chance to break a national record, it is always exciting," Scelzi said. "That track is so smooth and this time of year it is going to be cooler and the air should be pretty good. We need to win Vegas. The race for third is almost as good as the race for the (title).

"Plus, it is really exciting to be coming back to the West Coast. Being from Fresno, a lot of friends and family go to these races, which is really nice. The (track locations) are not in a different time zone, and it is just good to be closer to home."

Scelzi has collected two wins in five final round appearances this season including a recent win at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.

"It seems like we will start the season well, falter in the middle, and go strong at the end," he said. "After our performance in Pennsylvania, I hope that holds true. It looks good right now."

-NHRA-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Don Garlits , Cory McClenathan