PLACERVILLE, Calif. — 15-year-old Gio Scelzi stunned the King of the West/NARC Fujitsu Sprint Car Series by scoring his first-career series victory in a last-turn thriller Saturday night at Placerville Speedway.
Scelzi ran down race leader Sean Becker in the closing stages and ultimately drove around Becker’s outside in the final corner, drag-racing him to the line and holding on to win by roughly two feet at the start-finish line.
Writing a new page in the history books, Scelzi became the youngest winner in KWS-NARC history at 15 years, five months old at the wheel of the No. 83JR 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 the third starting position and set a frantic pace in the Dan Menne Motorsports/Mike’s Hard Lemonade KPC. Becker held off the continued advances of cushion-riding Willie Croft for the first 15 laps, as the pair zigged and zagged through lap traffic.
Scelzi, who set fast time and started on the pole after winning the Hoosier Tire Dash, fell back to third before he regrouped and charged back forward on the tight quarter mile oval. He utilized lap traffic to his advantage and picked off Croft at the halfway point, setting his sights on Becker’s leading machine.
With six to go, Scelzi made a pass for the lead as Becker got hung up in slower cars, but a yellow for two spun cars reverted the field back to the last completed 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 slingshotted into the lead as the pair powered out of the final turn.
The pair drag-raced down the front straight, with Scelzi scoring the win by .069 of a second.
“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.”
Point leader Bud Kaeding also found the high line to his liking in the late going, passing Kyle Hirst and Croft to finish third in the Williams Motorsports Alviso Rock Maxim.
Defending series champion Hirst claimed fourth in the sister Roth Motorsports KPC, with Croft rounding out the top five.
Hard charger Mitchell Faccinto came from 13th to sixth in the end, ahead of Cory Eliason, D.J. Netto, Michael Kofoid and Shane Golobic.
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 Kaeding, Andy Forsberg and Netto.
RESULTS: King of the West/NARC Fujitsu Sprint Car Series; Placerville Speedway; May 13, 2017
A-Feature (30 laps): 1. Gio Scelzi, 2. Sean Becker, 3. Bud Kaeding, 4. Kyle Hirst, 5. Willie Croft, 6. Mitchell Faccinto, 7. Cory Eliason, 8. D.J. Netto, 9. Michael Kofoid, 10. Shane Golobic, 11. Justyn Cox, 12. Andy Forsberg, 13. Andy Gregg, 14. Chase Johnson, 15. Brent Kaeding, 16. Jarrett Soares, 17. Nathan Rolfe, 18. Scott Males, 19. Dominic Scelzi, 20. Kalib Henry, 21. Sean Watts, 22. Bobby McMahan.
CREDIT: Prentice Motorsports Group