(10/30/21 – Alex Nieten) Bakersfield, CA… On Saturday night at The Dirt Track at Kern County Raceway Park the old saying “the cream always rises to the top” applied perfectly.
Heading into the penultimate event of the NARC-King of the West Fujitsu Sprint Car season, the Golden State trio of Justin Sanders, Dominic Scelzi and Shane Golobic owned a combined 49 sprint car wins in 2021. When the checkered flag waved, the number had grown to 50 courtesy of Justin Sanders topping Scelzi and Golobic in the 30-lap main event.
The triumph marked Sanders’ fifth NARC Fujitsu Feature win of the year and fourth since climbing aboard the Works Limited/Finley Farms No. 57.
“I’m really happy to get this win,” a smiling Sanders said in the winner’s circle. “It’s been like a month and a half since we won a race, so it’s nice to get this win for Works Limited, Paul Silva, Hayden and everybody that puts all this work into this car. They’re not stopping.”
Sanders and Washington’s JJ Hickle brought the field to green, and Sanders quickly darted out to an early advantage. As Sanders set the pace with Hickle in tow Dominic Scelzi and Corey Day battled for third. The pair of 41 cars traded the spot a couple times and began to gain on Hickle.
Scelzi capitalized on Hickle slowing Day on the low side and powered by both on the top. Hickle briefly grabbed the position back, but Scelzi once again claimed the runner-up spot just before the race’s first and only yellow flag flew for a spun Ryan Timms on lap 10.
Once racing resumed it only took a single lap for Shane Golobic to surge into third in his NOS Energy Drink/Elk Grove Ford No. 17W. Golobic then set his sights on the intensifying battle for the lead in front of him as Scelzi ripped the top to gain on Sanders who was running lower on the track.
Just as it appeared Scelzi may snatch the top spot shortly before the halfway point, the tactical Sanders moved to the high side, forcing Scelzi to search elsewhere.
“I saw him up there on that restart,” Sanders explained. “I caught him out of the corner of my eye, so I moved up.”
Sanders’ decision paid off as he began to build a lead over Scelzi and Golobic until lapped traffic came into play.
Scelzi mounted a late charge in his Red Rose Transportations/Whipple Superchargers No. 41 as the two most winningest sprint car racers in the country sliced through slower cars. With just five laps remaining, Scelzi utilized a run out of turn four to slide Sanders in turn one. Not one to be rattled, Sanders turned down the banking and roared back into the lead on the backstretch.
“I was just trying to go where the lapped cars weren’t,” Sanders said of the late race duel. “And I think I maybe slowed up for a lap or two and Dominic was able to get a run. I couldn’t let that happen again, so I just stepped it up as hard as I could and drove the wheels off it.”
After Sanders’ successful crossover, Scelzi hung near the tail tank of the 57 but couldn’t gather enough momentum to take another swing at the lead.
The checkered flag flew, and Sanders collected his 11th career NARC-KWS win and 21st overall sprint car victory of 2021, tying Scelzi for the nation’s most.
“When they get this thing right and I’m driving the way I’m supposed to, it’s a really fast combination, so hopefully we can keep it going,” Sanders said.
Scelzi hung on for second to notch his series leading 13th podium of the year and all but clinched his first series title. The No. 41 team just has to roll into the pit area next Saturday at Stockton to earn the show-up points that will be enough to lock up the championship.
“It’s been a very humbling year,” Scelzi said after the race. “I’m so thankful for Jimmy, Garrett, Mike, Lucas and Todd, everybody that makes this 41 go. It’s been a dream season. I’m so thankful for it.”
The previous night’s Anthony Simone Classic victor, Shane Golobic, rounded out the podium, his eighth top-three result of the year.
“My NOS Energy Drink car was good again,” Golobic said. “It was a good weekend, can’t complain too much, but I really would’ve liked to have won tonight. I think maybe if we could’ve started out front, these two would’ve been chasing us and it would’ve been kind of a similar outcome.”
Completing the top-10 was Corey Day, Bud Kaeding, JJ Hickle, Rico Abreu, DJ Netto, Tyler Courtney and Sean Becker.
The NARC-King of the West Fujitsu Sprint Cars can next been seen in action Saturday November 6th for the season finale at Stockton Dirt Track. The race can also be viewed live on floracing.com.
FUJITSU GENERAL USA FEATURE (30 laps): 1. Justin Sanders 57 2. Dominic Scelzi 41S 3. Shane Golobic 17W 4. Corey Day 41 5. Bud Kaeding 69 6. JJ Hickle 63 7. Rico Abreu 24 8. DJ Netto 88N 9. Tyler Courtney 83 10. Sean Becker 83V 11. Tim Kaeding 42X 12. Joel Myers Jr. 46JR. 13. Austin McCarl 88 14. Bill Balog 7 15. Billy Aton 26 16. Sean Watts 98 17. Tim Estenson 14T 18. Ryan Timms 5T 19. Geoffrey Strole 09S 20. Ryan Bernal 21
HOOSIER TIRE LAP LEADERS: Sanders 1-30
SWIFT METAL FINISHING HARDCHARGER: Tyler Courtney 14th to 9th
ARP FAST QUALIFIER (20 cars): Justin Sanders 12.339
BROWN AND MILLER RACING SOLUTIONS HEAT ONE (8 laps): Golobic, B. Kaeding, Sanders, Abreu, Courtney, Bernal, Watts
FUJITSU GENERAL USA HEAT TWO (8 laps): Timms, Day, Hickle, Becker, Myers Jr., Estenson, Strole
FLORACING.COM HEAT THREE (8 laps): Netto, McCarl, Scelzi, T. Kaeding, Balog, Aton
SUNNYVALLEY “POWERED BY BACON” TROPHY DASH (6 laps): Sanders, Hickle, Day, Scelzi, Golobic, B. Kaeding