(8/31/19) By Jim Allen, Calistoga, CA …  Dominic Scelzi passed Chase Johnson with only three laps remaining to score Saturday’s exciting King of the West by NARC Fujitsu Sprint Car Series feature event at Calistoga Speedway’s Louie Vermeil Classic.

The victory was worth $6000 for Scelzi and the Dennis & Teresa Roth HR Livestock Transportation KPC team.  It was their fourth series win of the season.

Johnson claimed the Sunnyvalley Bacon dash to earn the right to start the 25-lap affair on the pole.  He jumped out to a healthy lead and despite some early race cautions consistently held his closest pursuers at bay.  Ryan Bernal moved into the hunt and reeled in the frontrunner as the pair negotiated slower traffic midway through the event.  Bernal managed to get past Johnson in the third corner on the 15th circuit and quickly expanded his advantage over the next mile and a half until his right rear tire shredded.  This brought out the caution and handed the lead back to Johnson for the restart.

Both Scelzi and Willie Croft immediately jumped into the fray and the front trio battled wheel-to-wheel for a couple of laps until Johnson’s ride sputtered going down the front straightaway.  Both drivers jumped on the opportunity to get past the leader.  Scelzi would hold on to his advantage and hold off Croft to score the win.

“I got lucky,” said Scelzi afterwards.  “Chase had a good car for most of the race, until I saw it sputter.  That got me fired up because I knew I had a shot.  I’m just glad I could get this win for my team at Calistoga.  It’s special to win here.”

Croft secured second in his Amerikote/Holey Smokes BBQ sprinter.  Eighth starter Bud Kaeding locked down the third spot in the Alviso Rock Maxim.  King of the West by NARC championship point leader finished fourth in the Netto Ag/Rotella Shell KPC.  Bullet Impressions fast qualifier Rico Abreu rounded out the top five in his Abreu Vineyards/McDonalds-sponsored car.

The second five included Colby Copeland, Mitchell Faccinto, Jason Statler, Sean Watts, and Johnson.  The Swift Metal Finishing hardcharger award went to Geoff Ensign, who passed seven cars from his 19th starting position.

Heat races were picked off by Johnson, DJ Netto, and Shane Golobic.

FUJITSU FEATURE EVENT (25-laps):    Dominic Scelzi, Willie Croft, Bud Kaeding, DJ Netto, Rico Abreu, Colby Copeland, Mitchell Faccinto, Jason Statler, Sean Watts, Chase Johnson, Nathan Rolfe, Geoff Ensign, JoJo Helberg, Matt DeMartini, Nathan Shank, Shane Golobic, Ryan Bernal, Kenny Allen, Shane Hopkins

LAP LEADERS:  Chase Johnson 1-15, Bernal 16-19, Johnson 20-22, Scelzi 23-25

ARP FAST QUALIFIER (20 cars):   Rico Abreu – 17.559 seconds

BROWN & MILLER RACING SOLUTIONS FIRST HEAT (8 laps):  Chase Johnson, Dominic Scelzi, Colby Copeland, Sean Watts, Rico Abreu, Kenny Allen, Jenna Frazier

FK ROD ENDS SECOND HEAT (8 laps):   DJ Netto, Willie Croft, Bud Kaeding, Mitchell Faccinto, Nathan Rolfe, Matt DeMartini

SPEEDSHIFT TV/MVP THIRD HEAT (8 laps):  Shane Golobic, Ryan Bernal, JoJo Helberg, Nathan Shank, Jason Statler, Shane Hopkins

SUNNYVALLEY BACON DASH (6 laps):  Chase Johnson, Ryan Bernal, Willie Croft, Dominic Scelzi, Shane Golobic, DJ Netto

Dominic Scelzi was the winner at the first night of the Louie Vermeil Classic.  Photo by Donna Peter