Sonoma: Scelzi looking for win in wine country

SONOMA, Calif.- Gary Scelzi has lived in Central California his entire life. He has been racing nearly as long. So when it comes to racing near his hometown, Scelzi has a little higher expectation for his performance. In 2003, Scelzi raced to ...

SONOMA, Calif.- Gary Scelzi has lived in Central California his entire life. He has been racing nearly as long. So when it comes to racing near his hometown, Scelzi has a little higher expectation for his performance.

In 2003, Scelzi raced to Funny Car victory during the FRAM-Autolite nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. It was the first Funny Car win for the three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion.

Scelzi would like nothing better than to repeat the win during the 17th annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals, July 30- Aug. 1 at Infineon Raceway. Larry Dixon, Jeg Coughlin and Geno Scali are also defending winners of the $1.5 million event. It is the 15th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

"Infineon is a Bruton Smith-owned race track which means that there are no expenses spared and it has turned into one of the best facilities on the schedule," Scelzi said. "I have won lots of races there in the Alcohol and divisional events and I like going to Sonoma to race.

"It's about a three-hour drive from Fresno and I always have a lot of friends and family out to support the team. I look forward to this event every year."

With the win at Infineon Raceway last season, Scelzi became just the 13th driver in NHRA history to post professional victories in both nitro categories. He said it couldn't have come at a better location.

"Everything about the place feels like home," Scelzi said. "San Francisco is very close and we always make it to San Francisco for dinner at some of the best restaurants around. The wine country is beautiful and you can see the vineyards from the track.

"I live almost exactly halfway between Sonoma and Pomona Raceway and I always have more friends and family who make the trip to Sonoma. That's a great thing, being surrounded by all of your friends."

So far in 2004 Scelzi has earned one victory in three final round appearances. He is fourth in the POWERade point standings. John Force has the No. 1 spot followed by Del Worsham in second and Whit Bazemore in third.

A win at his beloved track might allow him to creep even further up the points ladder.

"We just have to do the same thing we've been doing," Scelzi said. "We have to make it down the track with good consistent passes. We don't need to swing for the fence every time. We need to make smooth, consistent runs."

That mentality, says Scelzi, has earned them better data and better results than the 2003 season where he finished sixth in the final standings.

"We've picked up the pace from last year," Scelzi said. "We are about three races ahead of last year in terms of performance and because of that, we're in the middle of this POWERade championship chase."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Geno Scali