Memphis: Gary Scelzi preview

Scelzi eyeing Funny Car championship MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 18, 2004) - Gary Scelzi has done it before. He's gone from being 215 points behind with six races left in a season to win a Top Fuel championship, of which he's won three, and he's aiming...

Scelzi eyeing Funny Car championship

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 18, 2004) - Gary Scelzi has done it before. He's gone from being 215 points behind with six races left in a season to win a Top Fuel championship, of which he's won three, and he's aiming for his first Funny Car crown in his second full season of Funny Car competition in the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus.

With seven races remaining in the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, including this weekend's O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park, the Fresno native has soared to second from sixth in the Funny Car point standings in just the last six races.

He has reached two final rounds in that time, plus three semifinal rounds, winning once in St. Louis. He is just 164 points behind leader John Force, whom he's met in the last three semifinals (winning one of those) and defeated for his first 2004 win in St. Louis. Scelzi has a clear edge over the 12-time Funny Car champion, with a 6-4 win-loss career record against him.

Particularly sweet for Scelzi was his holeshot win over Force in the semifinals last weekend in Brainerd, Minn.

"If you look at the last six or seven races, we've been there," said Scelzi. "We're racing smart. We might be a surprise to some of the reporters. They haven't been paying very much attention, and now they have to pay attention. We have to play smart ball, because there's no room for error, like I've been saying all along.

"In Memphis we're running in the evening and it doesn't look like it will be too terribly hot," he added. "But it doesn't really seem to matter with crew chief Mike Neff's tune-up. It's a night race, so the track should be tight.

"It's not just having power and having a race car that can run really good in good conditions; it's being able to have a universal combination and it looks like we're on to that right now.

"And, again, it's just paying attention. We need to go rounds and we need to go further than Force, and that's what we're looking at.

"We're not looking at who's behind us or who's beside us. It's race the race track and go rounds. That's the key to this deal right now.

"So we're going to Memphis with the same game plan we've since the beginning: no mistakes, run well and go rounds."

On Friday, Aug. 20, professional qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. On Saturday, Aug. 21, pro qualifying continues at 3 and 6 p.m., with final eliminations beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 22.

On Saturday, Aug. 21, ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 10 p.m. (ET). On Sunday, Aug. 22, ESPN2 will televise two hours of eliminations at 10 p.m. (ET). On Sunday, Aug. 22, ESPN2 will broadcast NHRA 2Day, a 30-minute weekly news magazine show, at 11:30 a.m. (ET).

-dsr-

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