(11/25/2022 – Alex Nieten) Sacramento, CA… The last checkered flag has waved on the 2022 NARC Fujitsu General Sprint Car campaign, signaling a close on the historic series’ 62nd season of west coast racing.
The year proved to be another in a positive direction for the ongoing effort of revitalizing 410 sprint cars along the left-coast. The 2022 season saw NARC travel to a total of 12 tracks scattered throughout the three states comprising the west coast. This meant a return to Oregon for the first time in a decade and the first ever NARC sanctioned races in the state of Washington, including June’s $50,000 to win Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup.
The 21-race calendar saw 13 different drivers from three different states visit victory lane. One of those drivers was a first-time series winner.
In a season that spanned from the first weekend in April to the first weekend in November, plenty of notable storylines arose, headlined by a Fresno native cementing a place in the history books by earning his second straight title.
Scelzi Goes Back to Back
Dominic Scelzi wasted no time in announcing there would be no sophomore slump after securing his first NARC championship in 2021. “The Dominator” kicked off the 2022 campaign with an amazing show of consistency by piecing together nine consecutive podiums. Among that stretch was a whopping four straight wins at Thunderbowl Raceway, Keller Auto Speedway, Petaluma Speedway, and Southern Oregon Speedway. The streak marked the first time since Brent Kaeding in 1999 that someone won four NARC races in a row.
The Scelzi Motorsports team continued their unwavering consistency through the end of the year, totaling 13 podiums, 16 top-fives, and a 4.81 average finish when all was said and done.
Scelzi’s back to back titles marked the first time since Kyle Hirst in 2013-14 that someone had claimed two in a row.
Croft’s Best Career Effort
In likely his final full-time season of sprint car racing, Willie Croft saved his best for last by earning the runner-up spot in points, the highest he’s ever finished with NARC.
During the early part of the year Croft stayed just behind Scelzi in the standings by posting seven top-fives in the first 10 races. Among that stretch was a streak of six straight top-fives including a win at Willamette Speedway.
The early season roll positioned Croft solidly in the title fight as he looked ready to battle Scelzi all the way down to the season finale. However, misfortune began to strike the Colfax driver in October and plagued him through the final four races.
Despite the late troubles, Croft still comfortably held on to second as the year’s final checkered flag waved.
Last year Corey Day made it clear he would be a name to watch for years to come, and he followed it up with another phenomenal season.
While racing obligations in the Midwest limited him to only competing in 14 of the 21 NARC Features in 2022, the Clovis youngster made the most of every opportunity. Day won four races for three different car owners (Jason Meyers, Ronnie Day & Kevin Kozlowski), bagged 10 top-fives and only missed the top-10 twice. He very well may have had a perfect top-10 record, but on the pair of occasions he missed it, unfortunate DNFs were his fate.
The four victories tied Scelzi for the series lead, making Day the first driver since Tim Kaeding in 2010 to run less than 70% of the races but still lead the “W” column.
Another Top-Three For Kaeding
Bud Kaeding has become the model of consistency with NARC, and he further proved it in 2022.
While the 2017 champion didn’t manage to visit victory lane this year, he did notch 14 top-10s en route to finishing third in the standings, his seventh points podium in the last eight years with NARC.
On top of the strong points result, Kaeding also collected the year-long Swift Metal Finishing Hardcharger award by passing a total of 60 cars during the season in the features.
Over these past couple of years Justin Sanders has vastly upped his game in a 410 sprint car, and he put together his best campaign thus far in 2022.
In 20 starts this season, Sanders picked up a pair of victories, eight podiums and 13 top-fives. The Aromas gasser trailed only Scelzi in the podium and top-five category. He also ended the season with seven consecutive top-six finishes. If Sanders hadn’t missed one race, he likely would’ve been in a battle for second in points.
The highlight of Sanders’ season came at July’s Howard Kaeding Classic hosted by his home track, Ocean Speedway. The crown jewel of the track that helped shape him as a driver had long eluded Sanders, but he finished the job in 2022 and pocketed the $6,900 payday.
Mittry’s Rookie Campaign
Heading into 2022, Max Mittry didn’t plan to compete in many 410 races, but that plan changed in a major way.
He and his father’s team, Mittry Motorsports, acquired some 410 motors and decided to tackle the full NARC tour.
The result was the Redding teenager putting together a Rookie of the Year campaign by totaling seven top-10 finishes against California’s best drivers. Mittry’s season was highlighted by earning Quick Time Honors at Silver Dollar Speedway and a sixth-place effort at the prestigious Peter Murphy Classic.
Faccinto’s First Full Season
Mitchell Faccinto had been a regular at NARC events for roughly a decade but never competed in a full season prior to 2022.
The Hanford native partnered with Tarlton Motorsports to take a swing at a championship that ultimately ended in a respectable fourth-place finish in the standings.
Early in the season it appeared that Faccinto would challenge for the title as he finished within the top-five in four of the first five events including a podium at the season opener, but the second half of the year brought some misfortune that led to him falling too far behind Scelzi but still maintaining a top-five in the standings.
Pacific Northwest Return
When the 2022 NARC schedule came out, the two trips to the Pacific Northwest undoubtedly received the most attention as the series hadn’t visited the area in a decade. That changed in late May when the teams embarked on the Fastest Four Days in Motorsports with Central Point, Oregon’s Southern Oregon Speedway, Lebanon, Oregon’s Willamette Speedway, and two nights at Elma, Washington’s Grays Harbor Raceway on the agenda.
Just a month later the series ventured back to Washington to partake in the 50th Annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup which consisted of three nights of racing culminating in the $50,000 to win finale.
Hometown hero, Trey Starks, picked up his first two NARC wins by claiming the FFDM finale in Elma and the second Dirt Cup prelim. Scelzi and Croft also picked up victories during the FFDM. Tim Kaeding won the opening Dirt Cup prelim, his 72nd career NARC victory. Two-time All-Star champion, Tyler Courtney, scored the Dirt Cup title aboard Kevin Kozlowski’s Works Limited No. 57 with Paul Silva on the wrenches. Including lap money, Courtney earned $76,000 with the win, the richest payday in NARC history.
A handful of other drivers picked up NARC victories in 2022 that weren’t already mentioned.
Colby Copeland claimed the season opener at Stockton in April, his third career triumph. 2019 champ, D.J. Netto, earned July’s Salute to LeRoy Van Conett at Stockton. In the second and final Morrie Williams Memorial feature, Jonathan Allard rolled to an emotional triumph aboard the Williams Motorsports No. 0. Rico Abreu made only two starts all year and made the most of
both of them, sweeping an October weekend the featured the Anthony Simone Classic and Dennis Roth Classic. For the second straight year, Shane Golobic found his way to victory lane on Halloween weekend, topping NARC’s lone visit to Kern County Raceway Park this year.