Madison: Gary Scelzi preview

Scelzi looking to keep up his Gateway percentage MADISON, Ill. (June 24, 2003) - Gary Scelzi, in his first full season of Funny Car racing driving the Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus R/T for Don Schumacher Racing, has the best winning percentage...

Scelzi looking to keep up his Gateway percentage

MADISON, Ill. (June 24, 2003) - Gary Scelzi, in his first full season of Funny Car racing driving the Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus R/T for Don Schumacher Racing, has the best winning percentage of any pro NHRA driver in the history of the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway, with a 15-2 win/loss record driving a Top Fuel Dragster here from 1997 through 2001.

The three-time Top Fuel champion and fastest Funny Car driver on the planet, with a national record of 328.06 mph set in Joliet, Ill., this year, would like to add to that record this weekend as the 12th round of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series heads to this track just outside of St. Louis, Mo.

"They said we had the deed to the property because we did so well there," says the Fresno, Calif., resident. "Now it's a different story because we're in Funny Car. Mike Neff (Scelzi's crew chief this year) was runner-up there last year with Scotty Cannon, so I'm hoping Mike will have a good handle on things.

"Gateway has been very good to me, but the way my season has been this year we'll just have to wait and see," says Scelzi, who is ninth in the point standings and still seeking his first Funny Car win. "Whatever held true in Top Fuel has not held true in Funny Car."

"St. Louis is a tough place," he adds. "Obviously the reason is because of the weather. It's extremely hot, extremely humid. The race track is a slippery beast. It could easily be 90 degrees, 90 percent humidity. That would be really hard on the drivers, hard on the crew chiefs, and hard to get a race car down the race track."

Qualifying and final eliminations will be held in the evening each day this weekend. "I think that's going to help," comments Scelzi. "But I believe in 200I I won that race like at 2:15 in the morning because of the rain and it started late. I think it's going to be a little bit better this weekend, but it's still going to be hot and I don't know how good the track will be. It's not like it's going to get to 60 degrees in the evening. It's still going to be probably in the high 70s or low 80s. It'll be better than it would be if it was run in the daytime, but first round (of eliminations) will still be run at 4:30 p.m., which means there will still be sun on the race track. The first round will probably be the most difficult. Normally, first rounds are the most stable and it gets worse as it goes. It will be the exact opposite this year."

"The winner is going to be a car that goes down the race track without tire smoke. As we've seen here of late, it's not always the quickest that wins, it's the most consistent."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Scotty Cannon , Mike Neff