FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761 SCELZI, McCLENATHAN ENTER MEMPHIS LOCKED IN TOP FUEL TITLE CHASE "Any of these guys could get on a roll, and our roll could be over. I don't want to jinx anything by...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761
SCELZI, McCLENATHAN ENTER MEMPHIS LOCKED IN TOP FUEL TITLE CHASE "Any of these guys could get on a roll, and our roll could be over. I don't want to jinx anything by focusing too much on the success we're having. We all know it could end at any time." -- Gary Scelzi, May 1997, while leading the NHRA Winston Top Fuel standings by 138 points MILLINGTON, Tenn. -- No one believed him in May, but Gary Scelzi was right, after all. That guy has emerged, and his name is Cory McClenathan. McClenathan won five of six races between mid-July and mid-September, appearing in the final round of all six, to pull to within 75 points of points leader Scelzi. McClenathan was fifth, 413 points behind Scelzi, before his hot streak started at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals in Denver. "We knew this thing was going to come down to a chase," Scelzi said. "I've said it all along. I said that Cory Mac would be one of the chasers. I'm not just blowing smoke." The championship chase could reach the boiling point at the 10th annual, $1,476,850 Pennzoil Nationals presented by AutoZone, Oct. 2-5 at Memphis Motorsports Park. The race is the 19th event of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997. Scelzi, from Fresno, Calif., appeared untouchable during the first half of his rookie season in the Team Winston Dragster. He won four of the first 10 races and advanced to at least the semifinals at the first 11 races. But then the small quirks that usually emerge during a championship chase clutch problems, loose fuel-line fittings, a late reaction time -- appeared, giving a rival a chance. Cory Mac took that chance. And how. He has a 23-1 record during eliminations since the McDonald's team eliminated a clutch gremlin in late June and unveiled a new car in July at Denver. "That team, by no means, is in a slump," McClenathan said of Scelzi. "They're going to be very tough these last few races. If things go our way, then we'll talk about a championship."