(3/25/22 – Alex Nieten) Sacramento, CA … Less than two weeks remain before the historic NARC Fujitsu General USA Sprint Cars embark on their 63rd season, and an interesting silly season coupled with the largest schedule in many years have created many storylines to follow throughout 2022.
With 25 races on the calendar, NARC is set for its most events since 2007. The series will travel to 13 tracks across the three West Coast states, California, Oregon, and Washington.
The farthest southern point on the schedule is Bakersfield’s Kern County Raceway Park, and the most northern point nearly reaches the Canadian border at Alger, Washington’s Skagit Speedway. Between those two facilities are nearly 1100 miles, and NARC will travel all around that space from the April 2nd season opener at Stockton Dirt Track to the finale on November 5th also hosted by Stockton.
The trips to the Pacific Northwest will be the first for the series in a decade, the most recent visit being a 2012 race at Southern Oregon Speedway won by Tim Kaeding.
Fresno’s Dominic Scelzi is coming off what he’s commonly referred to as a “dream season” in 2021 that he punctuated with his first NARC title. The 24-year-old delivered one of the most dominant seasons in series history and had the championship wrapped up before the final event of the year. Scelzi will look to defend his crown in 2022.
A key element to his title campaign will also return as Jimmy Carr enters his third year with Scelzi Motorsports. Scelzi credits Carr for elevating his performance to new heights as the reigning champ nearly doubled his career sprint car win tally last year, adding 22 triumphs to his pre-2021 count of 27.
In NARC competition, Scelzi has won at seven of the 13 tracks featured on the 2022 schedule, but he hasn’t had an opportunity to make a series start at a handful of the tracks due to the recent absence of the Pacific Northwest dates that have returned. Scelzi owns some 360 starts at the Oregon and Washington facilities including two wins in three nights at last year’s Dirt Cup at Skagit Speedway.
Back to the Top?
The 2019 champion, D.J. Netto, slipped slightly in performance in 2021, coming home second in points with a victory, nine top-fives and 16 top-10s.
Though the Hanford native is scaling back his racing calendar as his responsibility at the family business increases, Netto still intends to take on the full NARC tour in search of title number two.
Netto has become one of the most consistent forces of the NARC roster over the past several years, earning top-10s in more than 85% of his series starts since the beginning of 2016. After the runner-up finish last year, the 26-year-old is motivated to get back to the top of the standings and claim a second championship.
Last year brothers Tim Kaeding and Bud Kaeding finished up third and fourth in the final standings, and the duo hope to occupy the top two slots in 2022.
Two-time series champion Tim returns to the seat of the Bates-Hamilton Racing No. 42X. TK picked up a pair of victories, the 70th and 71st of his career, last season aboard the machine and narrowly missed the runner-up spot in the standings. The West Coast legend put together the longest streak of top-10s in 2021, stacking 11 straight from July to October.
Between NARC and World of Outlaws starts, Tim may have the advantage over the field on the two northern swings with many more laps in a 410 around the Pacific Northwest ovals. He already owns series victories at both Southern Oregon Speedway and Cottage Grove Speedway.
Early on in 2021, younger brother Bud looked like he might match Tim’s title count of two. After finishing seventh in the season opener, BK collected five consecutive top-fives highlighted by a pair of runner-ups at Petaluma and Watsonville. The hot streak gave him the points lead, but a crash at the Howard Kaeding Classic began to derail the season. Bud consistently finished in the top-10 through the second half of the year, but he and the BK Racing team couldn’t find the speed they had early on.
Bud will be back aboard his family’s iconic No. 69 BK Racing machine for 2022. With plenty of experience and victories on the West Coast, Bud is always a favorite for the championship.
The Faccinto brother’s, Mitchell and Michael, are both set to tackle the full season for the first time. The duo shook up silly season with announcements revealing that Mitchell would head to Tarlton Motorsports to wheel the No. 21 with Michael handling driving duties on the Mike Phulps owned No. 56.
Though they’re brothers and a similar age, their racing histories with NARC are quite different. Mitchell owns 90 career series starts since debuting in 2013 and has earned top-10s in over half of them along with three victories. Michael, a micro and midget ace, only has two series starts to his credit, though he has spent considerable time behind the wheel of a 360-sprint car over the past few years.
Oddly enough, Michael has made one more NARC start than Mitchell in their current rides. Mitchell is set to debut with Tarlton while Michael’s lone 2021 appearance came aboard Phulps’ machine.
Same Faces, New Places
At Petaluma Speedway in May of last year, 15-year-old Joel Myers Jr. made his presence felt with his first series podium. The top-three came in just his second career NARC start and aboard his family-owned ride. He went on to compete in 16 of the 21 features and picked up four more top-10s along the way.
This season, the rising talent has been hired to wheel the Vertullo Motorsports No. 83V, and they have prioritized the NARC campaign.
The Vertullo ride has helped produced some of the sport’s best with names like Kyle Larson, Brad Sweet and Chuck Gurney getting behind the wheel early in their careers, and Myers Jr. is looking to add his name to the list.
After not completing a full NARC season in a handful of years, Vertullo returned in 2021 with veteran Sean Becker as his pilot and earned the fifth position in points. The pairing picked up a popular win last summer in the Howard Kaeding Classic.
With the knowledge of the impressive list of names to precede him in the 83V, Myers Jr. is filled with excitement to take his turn and potentially become the youngest champion in series history.
NARC’s second winningest driver of 2021, Justin Sanders, is heading to Mittry Racing to pilot the No. 2. Last year the Aromas native began the tour aboard Larry Antaya’s car and picked up an early win at Petaluma. Sanders sat out a double-header weekend in July but came back in a new ride for the Fastest Four Days in Motorsports.
Sanders hopped in the Kevin Kozlowski-owned and Paul Silva-prepared Works Limited No. 57 and won in his debut in the car at Merced. The partnership went on to claim four of the final 12 races of the season as Sanders nearly doubled his career NARC win total, jumping to 11 after starting the year with six.
Sanders wrapped up his 2021 by turning some impressive results in the Mittry machine. The team traveled to Arizona for four ASCS regional events and came away with podiums in three of them. Sanders has already won in his new ride this year in Silver Dollar Speedway’s season opening 360 sprint car race, the Silver Cup.
Sophomore Slump or Success?
After having made only nine NARC starts over three years prior to 2021, Billy Aton followed the entire tour last year and came home with rookie of the year honors after finishing sixth in points. He’ll be back this season with hopes of improving a few spots in the standings.
The highlight of Aton’s campaign came in July at Santa Maria Raceway when he started on the pole and led all 30 laps en route to his inaugural NARC victory in his 18th series start.
Last season, Aton continually proved his ability to move forward in the main event, passing more than 100 cars in the feature over the course of the season. However, he struggled in qualifying which often left him starting near the back in the A-main, necessitating a charge through the field.
Aton and the team are prioritizing a better qualifying program this year, hoping for better starting spots on the feature grid leading to more finishes toward the front.
Taking Another Swing
Savvy veteran Willie Croft intends to tackle the entire NARC tour with his sights on his first title. The Colfax native has competed over the full schedule five times before with a best result of third in the standings back in 2007.
Croft has been one of the most consistent forces over his roughly two decades of wheeling sprint cars, having tallied eight victories, more than 50 top-fives, and over 100 top-10s with the West Coast’s premier 410 series.
The pilot of his family-owned Billet America No. 98, Sean Watts, plans to take on the entire NARC schedule again.
The 26-year-old has collected 15 top-10s with the series in his career, highlighted by a 2019 win at Stockton, a facility with four dates on the 2022 NARC calendar.
A handful of talented West Coast drivers plan to attend a majority of the NARC tour and are likely to pick up plenty of strong results when they do.
Fremont’s Shane Golobic tentatively plans to race all but one of the 25 scheduled events, the lone absence being the July Petaluma date. He’s the owner of 13 career series wins and always a threat to park the Matt Wood Racing machine in victory lane. Though he missed a few events last season, Golobic still managed to notch the second most podiums and top-fives.
Northern California will have a frequent visitor from down under this year in the form of Kerry Madsen. The 28-time World of Outlaws feature winner has partnered with Roth Motorsports to run a schedule consisting of a blend of West Coast and Midwest races. Turning the wrenches on the No. 83 will be fellow Australian Paul Baines, and with the Toyota Racing Development engine under the hood they plan to compete in nearly 20 NARC events. Another Australian, Jessie Attard, is in the process of loading his racing equipment into a shipping container for the journey to the Golden State. He plans to race a majority of the NARC schedule.
Two-time NARC feature winner, Colby Copeland, will be back aboard the Larry Antaya No. 16A for his appearances this season, the same car he drove to those two victories. Last season, driving mostly for a joint effort between Jim and Annette Vanlare and Antaya, Copeland made seven series starts with top-10s in all of them, the highlight being four straight finishes of 8th or better in the Fastest Four Days in Motorsports resulting in a runner-up in FFDM points.
Keller Motorsports pilot, J.J. Ringo, will contest over half of the schedule. The 32-year-old is shifting his focus toward 410 racing and will double his career start total with NARC this season. Last year, Ringo earned his first series podium after a resilient night at Santa Maria Raceway.
The Carrick brothers hope to frequent NARC events this season. Both Tanner and Blake have made many appearances in the top-10 but are still seeking their first series victories. With more 410 engines in their shop and more 410 races on the schedule, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them both collect their inaugural NARC wins. Last year Tanner picked up his first career NARC podium at the Howard Kaeding Classic, and that same night Blake notched his best series finish to date by running fourth.
Iowa driver Austin McCarl plans to drive Keith Offill’s number 88 sprint car around the West Coast before embarking on a swing through the Midwest. He is still looking for his first NARC victory in California.
Last year’s 11th place finisher in the standings, Geoffrey Strole, plans to compete in a solid amount of NARC races. The highlight of his 2021 season came in July at The Thunderbowl when he drove from 18th to 10th to claim both his first top-10 of the season and Swift Metal Finishing Hardcharger award.
Trying Something NewAfter making a name for himself piling up ASCS regional trophies over the past several years, Logan Forler is diving more into 410 racing by making an attempt at a NARC title this year. The Idaho driver hasn’t contested a NARC race since 2014, but he’ll change that in a big way in 2022 by tackling all 25 events. In five career series starts Forler has earned two top-fives, one at Southern Oregon Speedway and one at Placerville Speedway. A more common sight at NARC events in 2022 will be Chase Johnson. After not competing in a single race last year, the two-time NARC feature winner plans to run more than half of this season’s schedule. Johnson has many wingless and midget wins on his resumé, and the versatile driver will look to tally a few more with a wing this year.
Let’s Go Racing
The many storylines entering 2022 have been laid out, and now the only thing left to do is watch how they unfold over the course of seven months and 25 races.
For the full schedule, visit Schedule – King of the West NARC Sprints (narc410.com). If you can’t make it to the track, all NARC Fujitsu General USA Sprint Car Series races can be viewed live on floracing.com.