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Scelzi's objective: To win, gain points, finish high MOHNTON, Pa. (Sept. 13, 2006) - As the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series winds down to the final five of 23 season events, reigning Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi recognizes that his chances of...

Scelzi's objective: To win, gain points, finish high

MOHNTON, Pa. (Sept. 13, 2006) - As the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series winds down to the final five of 23 season events, reigning Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi recognizes that his chances of defending his title are pretty much non-existent. He is 299 points behind leader and teammate Ron Capps.

The driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car plans now to become a spoiler while targeting the highest position in the points rankings he can attain as the series comes to Maple Grove Raceway, outside of Reading, Pa., this weekend for the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals.

Seventh in the standings, Scelzi is just 68 points out of fifth place and 140 short of third. Up ahead, Capps and 13-time John Force are in a see-saw battle for the championship - a fight Scelzi is familiar with, as he, Capps and Force were in a three-way scrap for the title at the end of 2006.

"The only thing that is positive," says Scelzi of the remainder of a season in which he and his team have struggled, "is that we can cause the other two havoc. Even though Capps is my teammate and Force is a friend of mine, we're going to Reading to win.

"The Friday night qualifying session will set the tone, because Maple Grove is one of those race tracks that is very porous, so when the sun comes out your times drop off dramatically. When you get off the concrete the car has to be running hard. Otherwise, it spins the tires when it gets to the asphalt. Unfortunately for us, our car doesn't seem to be very quick early. It's from 300 feet to the finish line that it really runs. And that could be an issue.

"The good news is that the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger guys have gone over every inch on this car and found a few things that could be causing our problem, but we won't know until we pull into the gates at Reading.

"Our goal is to qualify in the top half, which would set us up for the Skoal Showdown for next year, to be up on top, and to win as many points to salvage the highest finish we possibly can at the end of the year."

Scelzi's record at Maple Grove is stout: three wins (two in Top Fuel, one in Funny Car), one TF runner-up and three No. 1 qualifiers (1998, '99 and '05).

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Scelzi