(10/9/17) By Jim Allen, Hanford, CA … The high-powered open wheel sprint cars of the King of the West-NARC Fujitsu Racing Series will invade Keller Auto Speedway this Saturday, October 14th for the $3000 to win Penny Newman Grain Cotton Classic.
This event marks the 15th round of the ultra-competitive 16-race traveling series. Leading the charge to the 3/8 mile clay oval will be Gio Scelzi of Fresno and Campbell’s Bud Kaeding. Scelzi currently leads Kaeding by the narrowest of margins (798-797) in the quest for the coveted King of the West-NARC championship.
This represents a battle of generations as the 15-year old “rookie” Scelzi locks horns with the 37-year old veteran Kaeding for the title. Scelzi is part of a new generation of open wheel stars who enter the 410 (c.i.) sprint car ranks with a decade of open wheel racing experience under their belt. He raced a variety of micro-sprint classes and was piloting a 360 sprint car at only 14 years of age.
Scelzi’s success resulted in him teaming up with veteran car owner Dennis Roth of Fresno for a no-holds barred run at the 2017 King of the West-NARC title. Despite the team winning a club-high three races so far this season, it has been a learning experience for the young driver, usually at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.
“Being this is my first year in a 410 sprint car, the speed change and driver competition has been the hardest transition for me,” explained Scelzi. “It has taken some adjusting because nobody is going to cut me a break on the racetrack. The competition is fierce.”
Although Kaeding raced quarter-midgets and micro-sprints at a young age, his sprint car career did not begin until he was 16-years old due to insurance company regulations and requirements. The racing industry has changed since 1996.
“The King of the West-NARC series has so many years of history behind it, it would be a massive accomplishment to win the championship on my first go,” continued Scelzi. “I just need to finish the season with two solid nights of racing and see what happens. But being in the middle of the points hunt makes me want to win races even more so I’m up for the challenge.”
Also entering Saturday’s fray is Cory Eliason of Selma. He was in the middle of the championship hunt since winning the season opener at Kern County Raceway Park. Unfortunately, a defective $250 racing component effectively took him out of contention last weekend at Watsonville. He is looking to play the role of spoiler at Keller Auto Speedway.
Others expected to compete include Hanford’s very own DJ Netto and Mitchell Faccinto; Bobby McMahan of Elk Grove; Atwater drivers Sean Watts and Nathan Rolfe; Buddy Kofoid and Chase Johnson on Penngrove; Jarrett Soares of Discovery Bay; 2016 series champion Kyle Hirst of Paradise; Brent Bjork of Fremont; and Fresno’s Craig Stidham and Dominic Scelzi.
The KWS-NARC program includes qualifying, three 10-lap heat races, the six-lap Hoosier Tires Dash; the 12-lap Flowmaster B-Main; followed by the 30-lap high stakes Fujitsu Sprint Car Series headliner. Also on the racing card is RaceSaver sprint cars and Mini-Stocks.
Pit gates open at 2:00 p.m. Front gates open at 5:00 p.m.
Keller Auto Speedway is located at the fairgrounds in Hanford. The address is 801 S. 10th Avenue, Hanford, CA 93230. For more information, call 559-584-7223, or go to NARC410.com
The King of the West Fujitsu Racing Series – presented by the Northern Auto Racing Club is co-sponsored by Hoosier Racing Tires. Contingency award sponsors include ATL Racing Cells, ARP Racing Bolts, BMRS, Butler Built, FK Rod Ends, Flowmaster, Fuel Safe Racing Cells, Kaeding Performance Center, KSE Racing Products, Maxim, PAC Racing Springs, PSC Industrial Services, Pyrotect, Racing Optics, Saldana Racing Products, Schoenfeld Headers, SCI Racing Products, System 1 Ignition, Ultra Light Brakes, Weld Racing Wheels, Wilwood Disc Brakes, Williams Roofing, and Winters Performance Products.
2017 KWS-NARC FUJITSU SERIES POINT STANDINGS
(After 14 races in the 16-race Series)
- Gio Scelzi, Fresno (3) – 798
- Bud Kaeding, Campbell (2) – 797
- DJ Netto, Hanford (1) – 767
- Cory Eliason, Selma (1) – 764
- Bobby McMahan, Elk Grove – 679
- Kyle Hirst, Paradise (2) – 668
- Sean Watts, Atwater – 656
- Michael Kofoid, Penngrove (1) – 655
- Jarrett Soares, Discovery Bay – 647
- Nathan Rolfe, Atwater – 610
- Shane Golobic, Fremont (2) – 463
- Willie Croft, Sacramento – 450
- Chase Johnson, Penngrove (1) – 419
- Mitchell Faccinto, Hanford – 392
- Brent Bjork, Fremont – 361
- Craig Stidham, Fresno – 301
- Mathew Moles, Fresno – 264
- Dominic Scelzi, Fresno – 254
- Jeremy Chisum, Fremont – 251
- Jason Statler, Grass Valley – 242