Topeka: Gary Scelzi preview

Oakley Funny Car Driver Scelzi has winning yet bittersweet Topeka memories TOPEKA, Kan. (May 22, 2003) -- Gary Scelzi will visit Heartland Park Topeka and the O'Reilly Summernationals this weekend for the first time as a Funny Car driver, now...

Oakley Funny Car Driver Scelzi has winning yet bittersweet Topeka memories

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 22, 2003) -- Gary Scelzi will visit Heartland Park Topeka and the O'Reilly Summernationals this weekend for the first time as a Funny Car driver, now that he's driving the Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T full-time for Don Schumacher Racing.

After qualifying No. 8 and advancing to the second round last weekend in Englishtown, N.J., he's moved back into the top 10 of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car standings and now stands No. 9 in points.

The three-time Top Fuel champion has bittersweet memories of the track located in the capital city of Kansas. "It's got several memories for me," he says. "It's where I had my first serious crashes in Top Fuel. It was in 1999. First, I had one on Friday night, which I don't consider a crash but it ruined the chassis, cause I didn't hit anything. And then we came right back the next day and disintegrated a car in the lights. And all that was left was the driver's compartment. We put two dragsters back together to race eliminations and made it to the semifinals."

It was also the site of another more memorable moment. "At that time in Top Fuel, in 2000, the record by Don Garlits and several other drivers such as Cory McClenethan, including myself, of Top Fuel wins in a single season was six. Several people had done it and we finally broke through and won No. 7 in Topeka.

"So there's a lot of history there. A lot of good memories and some bad. But it's a fast race track," added the man who has the distinction of being the fastest Funny Car driver in the world, after blasting his Oakley Dodge to 326.95 miles an hour at Englishtown in the first round of eliminations. "And if we have the kind of weather we had in Englishtown - cool and overcast - I don't believe lane choice will be a factor. But I didn't think it would make a difference in Englishtown and it did. I don't know. I know they've redone some of it or did some grinding there. It should be a fast track. Historically, it is. So I'm looking forward to going back and letting this big Oakley Dodge eat. I watched 'Tin Cup' the other night; I had to steal a line."

Pro Nitro qualifying for the Summernationals begins on Friday, May 23, at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. On Saturday, May 24, Pro Nitro qualifying is at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations on Sunday, May 25, begin at 11 a.m.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Don Garlits , Don Schumacher