Pomona: Gary Scelzi preview

Scelzi Excited About Start Of New Funny Car Season: "It's The Beginning Of A War" POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 5, 2007) - After a tough 2006 season attempting to defend his 2005 Funny Car crown, the four-time NHRA world champion (three in Top Fuel and...

Scelzi Excited About Start Of New Funny Car Season: "It's The Beginning Of A War"

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 5, 2007) - After a tough 2006 season attempting to defend his 2005 Funny Car crown, the four-time NHRA world champion (three in Top Fuel and one in Funny Car) Gary Scelzi is refreshed, reinvigorated, recharged and raring to begin the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season at this weekend's CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

If the consistent, quick and fast laps he ran in the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T in preseason testing at National Time Trials at Firebird Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., Jan. 26-28, are any indication, 'Wild Thing' just may be getting his groove back. "I'm really looking forward to this season, because I feel that we've got a legitimate shot of winning another championship," said Scelzi, a Fresno, Calif., native. "We've got three new crew members, all from within DSR (Michael Knudsen, Rick Pearson and Joe Fitzpatrick, who join Mike "Zippy" Neff, Aaron Brooks, Chris Lewis, Rod Centorbi and Josh Adams). They're so excited about this season. They're fresh, they're excited, they want to work hard, they want to do well, and they haven't even won a round of racing with us yet. And that brings new life into all of us because they'll do whatever it takes."

The new Countdown to the Championship concept will not change Scelzi's and crew chief Mike Neff's season-beginning strategy. "We've always approached the championship beginning at the Winternationals," said Scelzi. "We start counting right then. Some guys say they don't. I do. And the main thing is to get in the Countdown and to be in the top four when it gets to Vegas. And if your car runs well and you win races and you're going rounds, you're going to be there. How you play it from Vegas to Pomona is simple: you have to win the last two races. If you can win the last two races there's no problem. You just have to prepare yourself. I want to be in the top two or three by the time we pull into Indy (U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend). That's what I'm hoping for. I don't want to be in the top eight, I want to be in the top two or three."

As for starting a season in Pomona: "Pomona is either real kind or real rough," said Scelzi. "But I enjoy it because it's close to home, I've had a lot of success here, I've won a lot of races here, won Bud Shootouts here, so it's a good time. The Winternationals are always exciting because everybody's stuff is new. Everybody's got their new trick trailers painted, their races cars are new, new uniforms, everything is new and fresh. You know it's the beginning of a war."

Scelzi's Pomona record includes three Top Fuel wins (Pomona 1 in 1997, Pomona 1 and 2 in 2000), but no Funny Car victories. He's qualified No. 1 four times at Pomona Raceway: three times in Top Fuel, and once in Funny Car, in last year's Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA finals.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Rick Pearson , Mike Neff