DUNN TURNING HEADS IN MOPAR DRAGSTER DESPITE WINLESS SEASON TOPEKA, Kan. -- During the course of the last three NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series events Team Winston's Gary Scelzi has been stealing the majority of Top Fuel headlines by ...
DUNN TURNING HEADS IN MOPAR DRAGSTER DESPITE WINLESS SEASON
TOPEKA, Kan. -- During the course of the last three NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series events Team Winston's Gary Scelzi has been stealing the majority of Top Fuel headlines by posting three straight victories. His opponent in each of those three final rounds has been Team Mopar's Mike Dunn.
While it has been said in drag racing nobody remembers who finishes second, it's a pretty good bet that Scelzi has a pretty vivid mental picture of his three-time runner-up foe.
Like a loaded Russian Roulette pistol, Dunn's bound to go off sometime.
The odds are definitely in his favor if he can make another final round appearance at the 10th annual Parts America Nationals, Oct. 1-4 at Heartland Park Topeka. The $1.8 million race is the 18th of 22 events in the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
Despite Dunn's absence from the winner's circle in the last three events, he says the team has grown stronger during the course of the trio of final round appearances. Dunn says he prefers figuring out how to win races rather than trying to figure out how to get to the second round on Sunday.
"Our luck has definitely changed," said Dunn, of Wrightsville, Pa. "At the end of last year and the beginning of this year, if we had something go wrong it was in the early rounds. Here lately it has been in the final round that we've messed up. It's hard for anyone to put together four rounds on Sunday. But we're getting closer. We've ran great the last month, but just haven't been able to get past that last round. We've faced Gary Scelzi and his team every time and they've been pretty darn good each time out. But I can't complain, our car has been like a Cadillac to drive here lately."
He's feels confident about his chances at Heartland Park, one of the quickest and fastest quarter- mile tracks on the NHRA circuit.
"Traditionally that track has a lot of teeth all the way down and you can run big speeds," Dunn said. "If we can go to Topeka and run the same kind of numbers we've been running here lately we'll be capable of running some high-50s. Unfortunatley we're not the only car out here that can do that. You've got several cars that are capable of doing that. It should be a really quick and fast shootout in Kansas. I'm looking forward to it."
Since he started his professional drag racing career, Dunn has traditionally been one of the drivers to watch as the season winds down. However, while many of his wins have come in the final months of the season, he's never carried the reputation of being one of the heavy hitters who can post record-setting elapsed time and speed numbers.
The former Funny Car driver hopes that perception is about to change.
"We've never been a car that's ran real good on the really fast race tracks with the good air," Dunn said. "We've always been sort of a team that's been better on the marginal race tracks where it doesn't take a lot of power and the crew chief has to make the right calls with the clutch setup and figure out how to get the car down the track. But now we've got that power setup and we're excited about getting to those fast tracks and seeing what kind of numbers we can run. We feel like we've got 4.56 to 4.58 power and can post some 320 mph speeds at tracks like Topeka, Dallas, Houston and Pomona. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Dunn is currently fourth in the Winston Top Fuel point standings, 220 points behind leader Scelzi. While improved performance is one goal for the final five races, he's also determined to improve in another area.
"We looked at the stats going into Indy and we were 2-12 against the top four guys in the category," Dunn said. "We know if we're going to win races and Winston championships we have to turn that record around and start beating those guys. The only way to do that is to go out there and run the numbers consistently and make them take notice. I think a lot of drivers have recognized us as one of the teams to beat, but I really don't think they took us that seriously. Lately, I think they're looking at us a little differently."