(ED NOTE: Two-days after this article was written, Placerville Speedway was forced to cancel the Fastest Five Days in Motorsports series opener due to the fairgrounds being used as a staging area for firefighters and equipment being used to battle a huge fire in El Dorado County. With no chance to reschedule the event at another facility on short notice, the Fastest Five Days in Motorsports became FOUR. Our thoughts are with all those affected by the fires.)
(8/15/21 – By Alex Nieten, Photos by Donna Peter) … In less than two weeks, the NARC-King of the West Fujitsu Sprint Cars Series will embark on a journey consisting of five races over five consecutive nights at five different racetracks, all combining to create the highly anticipated Fastest Five Days in Motorsports.
With nearly 500-miles of travel taking the west coast’s premier sprint car drivers to five different venues of various shapes and sizes in less than a week, there will be plenty of interesting news to follow and numbers to note, and we’ve got them all in the 2021 Fastest Five Days in Motorsports (FFDM) preview.
The Favorites …
Dominic Scelzi has set the west coast ablaze this year and will look to continue his tear during the FFDM to extend his points lead. The Fresno native has already collected sixteen feature victories in 2021, including three of the nine NARC-KWS events run to date. Scelzi enters the week with three podiums in the last five series races, two of which were wins. Of his twelve career KWS wins, four of them have come at tracks on the FFDM schedule. The most recent series race at the site of the opener, Placerville, saw Scelzi grab his first Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial triumph. Scelzi finished eighth in the 2019 FFDM standings.
The 2019 edition of the FFDM was dominated by the Kaedings’, and Tim and Bud aim to write a similar story in 2021. The brothers won three of the four races two years ago with Tim snagging a pair and Bud claiming one, and Tim claimed the $2,000 prize for earning the most points. TK already owns two victories this year including his third Pombo-Sargent Classic at Ocean Speedway which hosts the Friday show. While Bud hasn’t earned a win yet this year, he does own five top-5 finishes. The 2017 champ also has finished seventh or better in five of the six races this year at the tracks on the FFDM calendar, the outlier being a DNF at Ocean when Bud got caught up in a wreck while racing for a spot in the top-5.
The 2018 series runner-up, Shane Golobic, is still in search of his first NARC win in 2021 despite being toward the front nearly every night. The Fremont native’s average finish over the six series races he’s contested this year is 3.8, and he owns podium finishes in four of those six. In the 2019 FFDM Golobic earned a pair of runner-up results, but an expired engine at Chico cost him a potential win and dropped him to seventh in the final standings.
Trending Up …
The most recent series winner, Billy Aton, will be looking to keep his momentum going after his Santa Maria victory last month. For some drivers, that highly sought first career win can break the dam and welcome plenty more trips to victory lane. Aton’s best chances for more triumphs may come in Watsonville and Petaluma, the locations where he’s turned the most laps. In July of 2019 Aton earned a then-career best second place finish at Petaluma. The Benicia native enters the week with three top-10s in the last four events.
After two consecutive finishes outside the top-15, Sean Becker has put together his best three-race stretch of the season. He won the Howard Kaeding Classic in July and followed the victory up with a pair of top-10 runs the next weekend at Tulare and Santa Maria. The 2005 series champ’s average finish over the trio of events is fifth, and he hopes the strong performance continues through the FFDM.
Bouncing Back …
If it wasn’t for bad luck, the pairing of young gasser Corey Day and Tarlton Motorsports would have no luck at all. The fifteen-year old earned the pole in his first series start for Tarlton before a mid-race incident cost him a potential top-5. Their next race at Tulare Day had climbed from 15th to 6th before climbing the infamous Thunderbowl turn one fence. Most recently Day seemed poised to pass Billy Aton for the lead and win at Santa Maria until lapped cars tangled right in front of him and collected the Tarlton machine in the crash. The familiar black No. 21 has shown plenty of speed with Day behind the wheel, so if their fortune can turn around Day should be in the running for the title.
DJ Netto is another driver who has shown a ton of speed recently but been plagued with bad luck. While the results show three top-10s in the last four races, the complete story reveals how a few of those finishes could’ve been podiums and a win or two. Netto got collected in an incident with a slower car at Petaluma while running second and fought back to eighth. The reigning champ also made contact in a major lap one incident at Santa Maria before rallying to fourth. While dealing with the misfortune, crew chief Drew Warner has undoubtedly had the 88N hooked up for Netto. ARP Fast Time honors have gone to the team the past two consecutive events and three of the last four. And as alluded to above, Netto has always been up front when the incidents have occurred. A little more luck and Netto may very well snag the FFDM title and regain the overall points lead.
Familiar Faces in New Places …
Two-time series feature winner, Colby Copeland, is reuniting with Larry Antaya for the FFDM. Both of Copeland’s two career NARC-KWS victories came aboard Antaya’s 16A at tracks on the Speedweek calendar. Copeland also already scored an SCCT triumph at Merced last month. The Roseville native’s lone series start of 2021 came in June at Ocean Speedway and piloting the Ed Butterfield No. 76 Copeland earned an eighth place result.
Look for Justin Sanders to be in a new ride that will turn some heads. Six of Sanders’ seven career series wins have occurred at tracks on the FFDM schedule, so he’ll be a favorite in a very potent machine.
Short Track Savvy …
California may be best known for its plentiful bullrings, and the FFDM will feature a heavy dose of them. The first three nights are set to take place at Placerville, Merced and Ocean Speedway, a trio of quarter mile ovals. The three venues routinely provide some of the most intense racing you’ll see all year.
Saturday brings the FFDM to the 3/8ths mile Stockton Dirt Track. The season opener at Stockton in March displayed the benefits of the recently reconfigured track. A smoother, slicker surface led to slide jobs galore throughout the field.
The finale on Sunday takes place at another 3/8ths mile, Petaluma Speedway, but the tacky, narrow oval races like a bullring. The leaders often set a torrid pace at the Bay Area facility, putting them in lap traffic early on that can be difficult to navigate due to the hooked up conditions.
First Time in a Long Time …
The trip to Merced on Thursday will mark an interesting reunion. It will be the first NARC-KWS appearance at the central valley track since 1992. Current series point leader, Dominic Scelzi, was not even born yet the last time the series visited Merced. Two-time series champ Tim Green claimed a pair of twin features in May of ’92 and has stood as the most recent series winner at Merced since.
Let’s Go Racing! …
The stories above are just a handful of the many that will unfold over the course of the five day blitz of racing. Roseville’s Willie Croft is yet to grab a NARC checkered flag in 2021. Can fifteen-year old Joel Myers Jr. grab his first series win after heartbreak at Petaluma last month? And, of course, who will claim the FFDM title and the $2,000 prize that goes along with it when all is said and done on a chilly evening in Petaluma? Find out by making your travel plans now!
However, if you can’t make it to the track, you can catch the entire Fastest Five Days in Motorsports live on Floracing.com.