Phoenix: Gary Scelzi preview

SCELZI OFF TO GOOD START AS HE CONTINUES HIS POINTS-GATHERING QUEST IN PHOENIX CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 21, 2006) - Defending 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi is off to good start after his quarterfinal finish at...

SCELZI OFF TO GOOD START AS HE CONTINUES HIS POINTS-GATHERING QUEST IN PHOENIX

CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 21, 2006) - Defending 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi is off to good start after his quarterfinal finish at the season-opening event at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona (Calif.) Feb. 12.

Driving the eye-catching Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, Scelzi qualified No. 3 in Pomona while setting his 20th career Funny Car top speed (332.51 mph). Although he was eliminated in the second round, he left Pomona higher in points than he had in his 2005 championship-winning season. The Fresno, Calif., native is sixth in the point standings after one event; last year he left Pomona in 12th.

He's now ready to attack the quarter-mile at the Checker Shuck's Kragen Nationals this weekend, where he tested in January, and where he qualified No. 5 at the 2005 event and lost to John Force in the second round.

"We ran really good numbers in testing," he said. "The track had excellent prepping. We're looking for more of the same this weekend. We're not looking for any surprises. We're just looking to try to stay focused and go more rounds, try to go to the final round, try to win the race.

"That's what we need to do. We need to try to win as many races as we can, to not leave any points on the table. We need to qualify well so we gain all the qualifying points that are possibly available and to get to the final round and win the race."

As for setting any national records for those additional 20 bonus points: "I don't see records being set here," he said. "I know that John Force (who ran the quickest pass in NHRA history at Pomona - 4.664 seconds - but failed to back it up for a national record) is babbling that he's thinking he can set records everywhere he goes. I think we're going to struggle to see records in Phoenix, but you never know."

Scelzi is the Phoenix Top Fuel winner in 1997, his only final-round appearance at this track, and was No. 1 qualifier here in Top Fuel in 2000.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Scelzi