NARC NEWSLINE, (06/29/17) By Jim Allen … Now that we’ve got 10-races in the official King of the West-NARC record books, it’s time to award some mythical “mid-season awards.”  They represent a compilation of highlights, lowlights, and a few other things you’ve probably already forgot about.  Enjoy.

THE “HEAT RACE GOD” AWARD:  If there was an official awards panel, this would have been an unanimous decision, because Hanford’s DJ Netto has absolutely smothered the category.  So much so that there isn’t even another opponent who has a shot.  The bottom line is …, in 2017, DJ has been a HEAT RACE GOD,  capturing nine heat victories in 10 events aboard Clyde Lamar potent Tri-C Machine sprint car.

So if you ever need to come up with a good racing trivia question … how about this one … what event did DJ “NOT” win a heat race?  By the way, the next closest drivers are Cory Eliason and Bud Kaeding with only three wins.

AND THE WINNER IS (your name here) AWARD:  It’s been an extremely unpredictable season so far.  Before this racing campaign got underway, this corner predicted that it was possible to see ten different KWS-NARC winners.  And we’re off to a great start already with eight in the books and the likes of Buddy Kofoid, Willie Croft, Mitchell Faccinto and many others still looking for their first.  By comparison, there were only six winners last season with Kyle Hirst and Kaeding combining for 11 victories.

HAT TRICK AWARD:  When we started the season, few people outside of Visalia’s Plaza Park Raceway, knew about a kid named Giovanni Scelzi.  Yes, his last name is famous in racing circles, but this was just some skinny 15-year old kid who would be lucky to run in the top 10 … right?  WRONG!  Gio didn’t just earn his first career KWS-NARC win at Placerville Speedway, he backed it up with victories at Tulare and Antioch.  That makes him the only multiple winner and the only driver to score a hat trick this season.

HEARTBREAK HOTEL AWARD:  After a thorough analysis, we came up with a three-way tie for this award because … well … they’re all heartbreaking crushers.  It’s even worse than breaking up with your girlfriend and listening to Country Western music afterwards.  Let’s start this off with Sacramento’s Willie Croft, who absolutely owned the field for the first 28-laps of the Kern County Raceway Park season opener.  All was going well until he ran out of fuel during a caution period with two to go.  Another gallon of fuel would’ve been worth a $3000 winners paycheck. … Second on the list is Sean Becker, who led 29.9999 laps at Placerville Speedway, only to get nipped by 24 inches at the checkered by Gio Scelzi.  … And finally, another 15-year old by the name of Buddy Kofoid just about had the Calistoga Dirt Classic winners’ check in his wallet.  He set the standard for 20 strong laps and held off a super aggressive Rico Abreu, who was pulling out all the stops in an attempt to catch him.  With a handful to go, Abreu ends up spinning in turn two with a flat left front tire.  You could almost hear Kofoid breathe a huge sigh of relief.  That was until his left rear tire shredded under caution.  You could almost hear Kofoid learning how to cuss at that very moment.

PUT THAT HORSE DOWN AWARD:  It’s been a brutal year on motors.  Among those hit hard are Craig & Scott Parker, Jason Statler, Tarlton Motorsports, Shawn Thomas, Antaya Motorsports, Andy Forsberg, Billy Butler and more.  This is an prize nobody wants to win!

AND DON’T FORGET YOUR VISA CARD AWARD:  This award should be individually presented to all eight teams that crossed the checkered at the May 6th Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial race in Chico.  Yes, a stout 22-car field started the 40-lapper and a heat race finished.  It was a very expensive night where it seemed every crash and mishap was of the expensive variety.  Jarrett Soares battered #12 car finished eighth to earn the hardcharger award.  On this night, it should have been renamed the survivor award.  By the way, the violent Michael Ing, Jason Statler, Carson Macedo crash on the backchute will send a chill up your spine (again) if you watch it in slow motion.

IT’S ANYONE’S BALL GAME CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY:  The Cory Eliason/Antaya Motorsports Team leads the KWS-NARC championship point standings after the season opener.  Then the Bud Kaeding/Williams Motorsports team takes over, before the Gio Scelzi/Roth Motorsports goes on a tear to the top.  Now it’s back to Kaeding.  And this dogfight is far from being settled with seven races remaining.  Make sure you don’t rule out DJ Netto either, who is still in the hunt.

DON’T WIN THE DASH AWARD:  One would think that starting on the pole would pretty much guarantee a victory, or at least dramatically increase the percentages in ones favor.  WRONG!  How about this statistic?  Only one … yes … ONE … driver has won the Hoosier Tires Dash has gone on to claim the feature.  Yup, that’s just 10% of the time.  Those honors go to Gio Scelzi at Placerville, and he fell back to third for the most of the event before eventually winning by a front wing.

SEAT OF THE PANTS AWARD:  This award goes to the best “overall” race of the year.  It doesn’t include any of the activities surrounding an event, just the green-to-checkered entertainment value.  The winner?  The season opener at Kern County Raceway Park was a gem throughout with most of the field battling inches apart – slicing, dicing, slide-jobbing, and cushion-riding for 30-laps.   There is a reason that this Mills Video Production highlight reel got 41,000-plus views – it’s awesome!  For those of you who need a review, that video can be found on the home page of … check it out again and see if you agree.

WILL YOU SHOW ME YOUR ID AWARD:  Half of the races this season have been won by drivers 21-years old or younger.  Gio Scelzi, DJ Netto, and Chase Johnson are setting the stage for our next generation of champions!  Heck, there are three 15-year olds in the top 10 in points – Scelzi, Buddy Kofoid, and Nathan Rolfe.  Let’s put that in perspective, these three can’t even drive themselves to High School yet.   And if they did, that 25 mph speed limit in the school zone would be more of a guideline than a rule.

OCEAN SPEEDWAY NOTES:  Shane Golobic returned to the Golden State after winning the Indiana Midget Week title.  Golobic was on the hammer from the start and scored the KWS-NARC victory in Keith Day’s ride.  He may be one of the most underrated drivers in the country, already proving that he’s capable of winning in any open wheel machine.  As much as we would hate to lose him as a California regular, I think it’s time for someone to offer him the opportunity in a full-time World of Outlaw ride. … Justin Sanders is very impressive in the 121 car – Rocket Fast!  He set fast time and was on a mission, finishing second in the main.  Two-time NARC champ Tim Green mentoring and coaching is paying off. … Ocean Speedway offered some much needed relief for many Californian’s suffering through a grueling heat wave.  For example, when I left Sacramento, it was 106 degrees in the shade.  It was 62 in Watsonville, with a marine layer.  That’s almost as good as an icy cold beer in a frosted mug.  Almost!  …

… Nathan Rolfe posted his first top 10 finish of the season. …  You know that saying about what to do when you fall off a bike.  Get back on and keep riding.  Brent Bjork, who finished in the top ten in KWS points five years ago, is re-learning the open wheel craft now that he has returned.  He admits it has been tough but he is making progress. …  Chase Johnson looked like he was going to secure win number two before suffering motor issues.  Chase said he glanced down at the gauges for a split-second and smacked the wall on the backchute.  Things kind of went squirrely from there.  …  Good crowd … No red flags. … Cory Eliason bicycled so hard in turn four in the feature that my fillings came loose. … Koen Shaw finished 12th. … The Real Deal Jamie Veal stuck around for another weekend.  Finished sixth at Ocean. … 16 cars broke the 12-second mark in qualifying.  Only five ran 12-second laps in the feature.  Everything else was in the 13’s.

CALISTOGA SPEEDWAY NOTES:  You know you have a successful racing event in the making when the activities surrounding the event are almost bigger than the race itself.  The Boys & Girls Club of St. Helena & Calistoga Dirt Classic fell into that category.  An astounding $250,000 was raised by local vintners for the cause in an effort spearheaded by David and Rico Abreu.  Throw in some bands, a carnival-type atmosphere in the infield, a standing room only crowd, and a fair share of race-celebrity watching and this was a premium event. … DJ Netto tagged the wall on the first lap and broke his right front shock.  24-laps later, he was standing in victory lane.  More proof that one should never give up in a sprint car.  … It was Clyde Lamar’s 16th career victory as a car owner at the half-mile, one short of the record. Lamar was hugging his custom-made winners trophy like a grandfather does a grandchild.  He was one happy camper. …

… Among the NASCAR and open wheel royalty in the infield were Tony Stewart, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Danica Patrick, Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, and many more.  Stewart had to have police tape around his pit area for crowd control.  … 22 KWS-NARC cars, 46 SCCT cars, no drama! … Cori Andrews was among those making her Calistoga debut. …  Kyle Hirst bumped Rico Abreu from quick time honors in the late going.  His time was 17.033.  The track record of 15.731 seconds was set by Joey Saldana in 2014.  That may be untouchable.  …   It was a horrible, horrible break for Buddy Kofoid.  He led, or should we say dominated the first 20-laps before he cut a left rear.  He did win the Hoosier Tires Dash. …

… Race fans don’t know how close this event came to not being run.  David Abreu, in his continuing (and very commendable) efforts to improve the facility, planned to install a “walk-through” gate at his expense near the flagstand to make it easier for fans to get to the pits.  They started the project, but were asked to stop midway through construction during the week by the Fair management.  The gate was never installed and it took a last second stamp by a State Inspector to green light the event.  Not to go on a rant or anything, but the Calistoga Fair Board should be thanking David Abreu for everything he has done for the facility and the local community – not hampering his efforts.  The Fair Board needs to get their act together, otherwise this track will go the way of several others, which means condos and shopping mall. … About 30 people from Fujitsu and their local dealers attended the event.  Some flew in from New Jersey and Oregon.  Twenty-five of them had never attended a sprint car race.  However, there was nothing but smiling faces when they boarded the limo-bus at the end of the night.  That says a lot about the show. … Bud Kaeding, Gio Scelzi and Chase Johnson (360) flew massive Fujitsu logos on their top wings to support the cause.  Thank you. …  From initial push off to final checkered, the KWS-NARC Fujitsu headliner lasted 19-minutes. …  No red flags for either division.  Awesome! …

And finally, on a different topic, there’s another BIG KWS-NARC race on the horizon.  The Howard Kaeding Classic is scheduled for Saturday, July 15th at Ocean Speedway.  As of right now, it will pay $5000 to win, $2500 for second, and $1900 for third.  Tenth place pays $1000 and it’s $700 to start the 30-lapper.  The heat winners will also take home a Hoosier Right Rear Tire.  If you would like to contribute to the cause, contact Bud Kaeding at Kaeding Performance Center.

The HK Classic is part of a two-day racing weekend at Ocean that includes a Friday night Civil War race.  After Friday’s show, there will be a barbecue and donations are being accepted with all proceeds going to the NARC Benevolent Fund.  On Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. there will be the HK Classic steak lunch where a $20 donation is requested.  Once again, all monies go to the NARC Benevolent Fund – something we hope we never have to use – but something we don’t want to do without!  Mark your calendars now!

Coming to you live from Auburn, CA.  See ya!