FUNNY CAR CHAMP SCELZI FACES UNKNOWN IN RICHMOND DINWIDDIE, Va. (Oct. 3, 2006) - It's been five years since the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series has competed at Virginia Motorsports Park, south of Richmond, Va., and it's where the reigning Funny...
FUNNY CAR CHAMP SCELZI FACES UNKNOWN IN RICHMOND
DINWIDDIE, Va. (Oct. 3, 2006) - It's been five years since the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series has competed at Virginia Motorsports Park, south of Richmond, Va., and it's where the reigning Funny Car champion and three-time Top Fuel champion Gary Scelzi holds two ends of the track record in the Top Fuel class: 4.494-second elapsed time, 321.12-mph top speed - both set in 1999.
Since his last visit here, the driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car captured his third Top Fuel crown in 2000, left the Top Fuel class at the end of 2001, entered the Funny Car ranks in 2002, joined Don Schumacher Racing in 2003, and won his first Funny Car championship in 2005.
It's been a tough road defending his title in 2006, but the popular Fresno, Calif., native is eyeing strong results here as the season winds down to the final three events, despite the challenge of not knowing what to expect in Dinwiddie.
"It's been a long time since we've been here," he says. "We've won here before (1997 in TF). I don't know what kind of improvements they have made to the race track; nobody seems to know, but we're ready for it. I'm sure my track records will be blown away, although that ET record is still pretty stout."
This weekend will also mark another visit to "NASCAR country." "My old Winston teammate Jimmy Spencer, who announces for NASCAR now, is going to come visit me," Scelzi adds, "and so is Bobby Masten, one of my old bosses from RJR, so maybe we'll play a little golf on Friday."
Scelzi is seventh in the Funny Car point standings, and is aiming to move up in the rankings before the season ends in Pomona, Calif., in November. He knows his chances of defending his crown are over, but he still has an opportunity to move into the top five. He is 61 points short of that spot. To finish in fourth, he would have to make up 133 points.
He's looking for some more luck in these remaining season events, following four consecutive early-round losses. "I can't say my luck hasn't changed, because the first round in Reading was awfully lucky," he says of his opening-stanza win after his opponent crossed the centerline while Scelzi was dead in the water in his lane following a breakdown. "We just have to get four rounds under our belt in Richmond."