By JIM ALLEN
PLACERVILLE, CA – Young driving sensation Gio Scelzi continues to amaze the open wheel ranks on the King of the West/NARC Fujitsu Sprint Car Series. On Saturday night, the 15-year old pulled off an exciting final corner pass of race leader Sean Becker at Placerville Speedway and held on to win by two feet for his first career victory in the series.
Scelzi became the youngest winner in KWS-NARC history (15 years, 5-months), piloting the potent Roth Motorsports H&R LIvestock Transportation KPC sprint car.
Sean Becker, who scored his 100th career victory the night before in Chico, shot into the lead from his third starting position and set a frantic pace in the Dan Menne Motorsports Mike’s Hard Lemonade-sponsored KPC. Becker held off the continued advances of cushion-riding Willie Croft for the first 15 laps as the pair zigged and zagged through lapped traffic.
Scelzi, who set fast time and started on the pole after winning the Hoosier Tires dash, fell back to third before he regrouped and charged back on the tight quarter mile oval. He utilized lap traffic to his advantage and picked off Croft at the halfway point , before setting his sights on the leader.
Scelzi made a pass for the lead with six to go when Becker got hung up in slower cars, but a yellow for two spun cars reverted the field back a lap. Another caution with two laps remaining set the stage for Scelzi’s winning move. With Becker protecting the bottom of the track, Scelzi, rode up high on the cushion and slingshot into the lead as the pair powered out of the final turn. The two drag raced down the front straight with Scelzi scoring a narrow .069 second victory margin.
“This is great!” said a fired up Scelzi in victory lane. “I thought I messed up and didn’t have enough to catch him (Becker). But Roth Motorsports gave me an excellent car and we got it done at the end.”
The checkered flag waved at 8:46 p.m.
Point leader Bud Kaeding also found the high line to his liking in the late going, passing Kyle Hirst and Croft to earn the show position in the Williams Motorsports Alviso Rock Maxim. Defending series champion Hirst claimed fourth in the other Roth Motorsports KPC. Croft rounded out the top five in his Amerikote Powder Coating sprint car.
Mitchell Faccinto earned the Hardcharger award, picking up seven spots after starting 13th. Cory Eliason, DJ Netto, Michael Kofoid, and Shane Golobic claimed the remaining positions in the top ten.
Sean Watts brought out the only red flag of the night when he go upside down on lap seven. He was unhurt.
Heat race winners were Bud Kaeding, Andy Forsberg and DJ Netto
30-lap KWS-NARC Fujitsu Main Event: Gio Scelzi, Sean Becker, Bud Kaeding, Kyle Hirst, Willie Croft, Mitchell Faccinto, Cory Eliason, DJ Netto, Michael Kofoid, Shane Golobic, Justyn Cox, Andy Forsberg, Andy Gregg, Chase Johnson, Brent Kaeding, Jarrett Soares, Nathan Rolfe, Scott Males, Dominic Scelzi, Kalib Henry, Sean Watts, Bobby McMahan
Fast Qualifier (1/4 mile oval – 23 cars): Gio Scelzi – 10.541
Heat 1 (10 laps): Bud Kaeding, Michael Kofoid, Gio Scelzi, Kalib Henry, Brent Kaeding, Justyn Cox, Mitchell Faccinto, Scott Males
Heat 2 (10 laps): Andy Forsberg, Sean Becker, Willie Croft, Shane Golobic, Jarrett Soares, Chase Johnson, Dominic Scelzi, Jim Richardson
Heat 3 (10 laps): DJ Netto, Kyle Hirst, Cory Eliason, Bobby McMahan, Sean Watts, Nathan Rolfe, Andy Gregg
Hoosier Tires Dash (6 laps): Gio Scelzi, Willie Croft, Bud Kaeding, Kyle Hirst, Cory Eliason, Michael Kofoid, Andy Forsberg, DJ Netto