Topeka: Gary Scelzi preview

GARY SCELZI: "TOPEKA'S BEEN GOOD, BAD AND IN-BETWEEN" FRESNO, Calif. (May 29, 2007) - When Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Gary Scelzi recalls his previous NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series appearances at Heartland Park Topeka, ...

GARY SCELZI: "TOPEKA'S BEEN GOOD, BAD AND IN-BETWEEN"

FRESNO, Calif. (May 29, 2007) - When Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Gary Scelzi recalls his previous NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series appearances at Heartland Park Topeka, various scenarios emerge in his mind. He hopes this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals will add another positive image as he seeks his first Funny Car win at this circuit.

"Actually, Topeka is the place where I broke the all-time Top Fuel season win record, which was six, set by Cory McClenathan in 1998," said the four-time NHRA world champion. "We won our seventh (of nine) Top Fuel national event of the year in Topeka in 2000.

"Topeka's been good, but Topeka's been bad. I had my first major crash in Top Fuel there where we actually went through two cars. One on Friday, one on Saturday, and we kind of pieced those two cars together to run on Sunday, which turned out to be a semifinal finish. So, Topeka's been good, bad and in-between."

The 2005 Funny Car champion, who switched to that class in 2002, was the Top Fuel winner at Heartland Park in 2000, runner-up in 1997, and qualified No. 1 in 1998 and 2000 in Top Fuel. Last year, he qualified No. 8 in Funny Car and lost to Robert Hight in the second round.

"Historically, Topeka has been a pretty fast race track. Who knows what the weather's going to bring this weekend. But Friday night qualifying is always exciting at Topeka," added Scelzi, who has one win in 2007, and is tied in fourth place in the Funny Car rankings.

As for the three straight weekends off because of the Bristol (Tenn.) event's postponement, he said, "It's OK, but, you know what? Being off for that long kind of drags on because you get excited and you want to roll. And now we're going to go to six races in a row (following Topeka and Chicago next week, then one weekend off), which I'm not really thrilled about because we're not like a NASCAR team where we have guys at the shop building engines and doing maintenance on the cars and just putting stuff on the semis to go to the next event. This is going to be extremely difficult on everyone, because we're not set up to do that.

"It wears on everybody. It's hard enough to do this thing for 23 weekends out of the year, but when you're locked in with everybody for six weeks with the amount of miles we're all going to have to travel, it's going to be a difficult situation. But, it's the same for everybody."

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Cory McClenathan , Robert Hight