(2/27/24 – Ben Deatherage) … With a brand-new season for the NARC 410 Sprint Car Series right around the corner, it’s incredible to think of all the potential drivers that could win the King of the West title, let alone a feature event during the 2024 campaign. With 26 nights of exciting action taking place at so many different racetracks along the Pacific Coast, things are definitely up for grabs. Below is a look at where success and some upsets could come from with the regulars and frequent visitors to the NARC tour.

THE REGULARS

The first category we will explore is the drivers slated to compete regularly with the NARC 410 Sprint Car Series in 2024. Justin Sanders, from Aromas, hit the jackpot on the final night of the Jim Raper Memorial Super Dirt Cup, at Alger, Washington’s Skagit Speedway, by winning over $80,000 for Mittry Motorsports #2X last June, as well as winning the overall Morrie Williams Memorial at Kings Speedway in mid-October. Undoubtedly, all the success he achieved in Australia the previous winter, coupled with several trips to the Midwest, made him a force to reckon with in 2023 and this coming season.  To date, he has scored 15 NARC wins.

Justin Sanders is definitely a frontrunner for the 2024 NARC championship. Photo by Donna Peter

Returning behind the wheel of the Bates-Hamilton Racing #42X, Justyn Cox from Roseville will also be a front-runner in the championship battle. Cox scored a massive triumph at Tulare’s Dennis Roth Classic with $18,000+ in winnings in April and eventually was crowned the Sprint Car Challenge Tour 360 title winner. Undoubtedly, he’s looking to add a NARC 410 Sprint Car Series crown to his trophy case come the Tribute To Gary Patterson at Stockton in November.

Campbell’s Bud Kaeding knows what it takes to achieve a championship with the NARC Series. The 2017 title winner once again finished in the top five in the final standings, and nearly collected a win at Petaluma Speedway during the May visit. It seems all it will take for Kaeding is to win once, and then the victory machine will be hitting on all eight-cylinders again.  He has 21 NARC wins to his credit.

Speaking of Petaluma, race fans are still talking about the amazing Salute To Baylands victory that Chase Johnson scored in July. The Penngrove pilot may have only won once last year with NARC, but he managed to accumulate some wins with and without the wing and in both 360 and 410 powerplants. Johnson no doubt will have a diverse 2024 schedule, which also includes Midgets on the calendar.

Once more driving the Dave and Debbie Vertullo #83V, Dylan Bloomfield proved he can hang with the NARC ranks for an entire season. The Oakley driver managed a pair of Top 5 feature finishes and finally had a breakthrough victory in 360 competition on the preliminary night of the Fall Nationals at Silver Dollar Speedway. Could that translate into a David Tarter Memorial or Mini Gold Cup win this season when the tour visits Chico?  Don’t bet against it.

Dylan Bloomfield will be a steady top 10 fixture this season in the Vertullo #83V. Photo by Joe Shivak

Billy Aton will be another familiar face to see when the NARC group hits the road. Aton is excited about NARC’s return to Santa Maria Speedway in 2024. What makes that track special is that it is the site of his lone NARC triumph in 2021. The Benicia driver and his team are a great group to have around with their infectious smiles and “no quit” attitude despite 2023 starting so rough for them in the spring.

After being named the NARC Rookie of the Year at last year’s championship celebration, Nick Parker is looking to build on that accolade. The Tucson, Arizona native, now residing in Chico, has a full year of NARC racing under his belt, making the rounds of the multiple tracks on the NARC campaign.  That experience has culminated in a detailed notebook of improvements and nuances needed for success. That should spell improved performance for his team that should result in top finishes.

Nick Parker is looking to build on his 2023 successes that earned him NARC Rookie of the Year honors. Photo by Donna Peter.

Jarrett Soares will return to the NARC 410 Series when the engines fire up on March 9th. Returning to full-time series competition for the first time since 2016, the Gilroy gasser will be a delightful addition to the cast of characters tearing up the clay. Last year, Soares scored a pair of Non-Wing 360 Sprint victories at Antioch Speedway and traveled across the state of California as well as into the Pacific Northwest.

THE ROOKS

We’ve talked about some of the regulars, but a unique twist to the NARC 2024 campaign will be the youth movement by drivers who are still cutting their teeth in Sprint Cars and some with just a handful of starts in a 410. The battle for the Rookie of the Year award will be a barnburner from March to November.

Dominic Gorden got some 410 racing under his belt late last year. Under the tutelage of crew chief Richard Brown, the Clovis teenager scored a trio of 360 triumphs, twice at Ocean and once at Marysville, as well as collecting the Western Sprint Tour title. Gorden didn’t have much of a quiet offseason as he won six Caged Clone races at the Chowchilla Barn Burner and got the big payday at Nevada’s Reno Livestock Events Center in February during the High Desert Hustle.  He promises to be a top ten fixture.

Clovis driver Dominic Gorden is “all-in” for the NARC rookie of the year battle. Photo by Donna Peter

Lemoore driver Gauge Garcia spent last year splitting driving duties between the Tarlton Motorsports #21X and the Keller Motorsports #2K. Garcia had a pair of 360 wins in 2023, including the Cotton Classic in October at Kings and a thriller of a win at Tulare in May.  His best NARC finish was a third at the Morrie Williams Memorial race.  Garcia plans to chase the rookie title aboard the Keller Motorsports ride.

Fresno’s Caeden Steele is another individual to watch closely. Steele had some great battles with Bud Kaeding at Ocean Speedway on Friday nights in the Ocean Sprints 360 ranks, including posting a win in late August. Something noteworthy is in late July, he was able to record a sixth-place result at Skagit Speedway against a stacked field of 410 competitors with a 360 in between the frame rails.

Another addition to the series will be Chico-based team of Michael Ing.  The 22-year driver has five-years of experience in both 360’s and a limited amount of time in 410’s and will be driving a family owned and operated team with David Ing on the wrenches.

Chico’s Michael Ing plans to tackle the entire NARC schedule in 2024. Photo credit unknown.

Concord’s Joey Ancona opened some eyes with some stellar NARC performances in a handful of races last season.  The 19-year-old driver posted a NARC season best third place finish at Antioch Speedway last season.  He still retains his “rookie” status in 2024.

THE SPOILERS

The last topic to cover is the many potential spoilers that will enter the battle during the NARC 410 Sprint Car Series. What makes NARC such an incredibly tough series is that anyone can win on any given night.

Despite not running full-time with NARC in 2024, Dominic Scelzi will still be a force to reckon with. The two-time series champion has already logged many laps, filling in for James McFadden with the High Limit Series. This move reunited him with the Roth Motorsports team. Whether it’s in Washington, Oregon, or California, the Fresno driver is sure to be upfront.  He will be racing around the country and plans to return to California in May for the balance of the NARC season.  Scelzi has 22 NARC victories on his resume’.

Two-time series champ Dominic Scelzi knows what it takes to win on the NARC tour. He will play the role of “spoiler” this season. Photo by Donna Peter

2023 saw one of the biggest comeback stories in Sprint Car racing. After shattering his collarbone at the Trophy Cup in October 2022, D.J. Netto returned and won. In his first race in March of 2023, he bested the ASCS-Southwest Region competition at Central Arizona Raceway. The Hanford pilot finally returned to NARC victory lane when he scored his seventh career NARC victory at the Morrie Williams Memorial at the end of the second Twin-20 main event.

Carson Macedo won the NARC title in 2015, but one thing he did not do is something his younger brother Cole Macedo managed to accomplish in June, win a NARC feature. The younger Macedo took care of business at Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, Oregon, and was the only driver to beat eventual tour champion Corey Day during the Fastest Four Days Of Motorsports. Macedo also has spent some time in Florida and Georgia racing the Kevin Newton #16TH with the High Limit Series.  He is a threat to win on any given night.

Chase Johnson (24) and Cole Macedo (21) will be on the hunt for NARC victories this season. Photo by Donna Peter

With two trips to Silver Dollar Speedway, the 2022 SDS track champion Shane Golobic is one driver to not discount. The Matt Wood Racing #17W team has got Chico ¼-mile on lock and has won eight races in the last two seasons. Finishing sixth on the final night of the Gold Cup Race of Champions, the Fremont native wowed the crowd at Ocean Speedway when he finally won the Howard Kaeding Classic at Watsonville in July. He had ten victories between 410, 360, and Midget competition.  He has 15 career NARC wins.

Whether it was in the Larry Antaya #16A or the Jim and Annette Van Lare #5V, Colby Copeland was always a contender for a victory. The Roseville racer won with the Van Lare’s at Placerville Speedway at the Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial mere days after his car owner lost his father.  This made for a very powerful post race interview in victory lane. Copeland would back that up with another emotional victory lane visit at the Van Lare’s home track at Petaluma when they bested the SCCT on the adobe 3/8-mile oval.

Making a healthy number of NARC starts last year was Tanner Carrick. From Lincoln, Carrick won the first Sprint Car race in California in 2023 when he won the Sherm and Loree Toller Memorial at Marysville. He would get additional 360 wins at Ocean and Placerville. Carrick is notable for already achieving a win in 2024 by winning the Monday prelim at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on January 8th, which makes him the first Midget feature winner in the United States for this year.  He is looking for his first career NARC win.

2005 NARC champion Sean Becker can be expected to make some appearances throughout the upcoming season. Now calling Roseville home, Becker had his best run with NARC on July 8th when he finished fourth at Petaluma. He closed the year out with an electric 360 win at Marysville with a win on Paul Hawes Memorial Sprint Spooktacular in late October.

Last year, Andy Forsberg would collect his 200th career victory when he won the Tribute to Al Hinds at Placerville on April 15th. Three more additional wins, all at Marysville in 360 action, would add to the Auburn veterans total. Come the Mini Gold Cup and the David Tarter Memorial at Chico, he should be fun to watch. He was fourth on May 28th, his lone 410 top five of the campaign, and five total top tens at Chico for the four-time Silver Dollar Speedway track champ.

Even though he spent much of the summer helping his son Cole in Kage Karts, Willie Croft was still fun to watch in his limited appearances with the NARC 410 Series. Croft, who resides in Colfax, posted two top-five finishes in eight 410 starts.  This included a pair of runner-up finishes, getting one on May 28th at Silver Dollar and another at Skagit on July 22nd.

Whether in California or his native Pacific Northwest, Trey Starks is always on the prowl for a win. Nearly capturing the prelude to the Dennis Roth Classic while racing for Scelzi Motorsports in April, he was also a contender at Grays Harbor Raceway’s Timber Cup and the Dirt Cup. The two-time and defending Skagit Speedway track titlist from Puyallup, Washington, is looking to be the first Washington native to win the prestigious Dirt Cup since Seth Bergman did it in 2018.

Tanner Holmes will be a fun driver to watch as he comes off a stint with the Shark Racing #1T after the Knoxville Nationals.  This earned him a significant cram session in the final few months of 2023. Undoubtedly, he gained some valuable experience taking on the World Of Outlaws, expanding his knowledge of some new tracks and fierce competition that bettered his driving abilities. The Jacksonville, Oregon racer enjoyed a great Dirt Cup last year and posted several strong showings with the NARC series in the springtime.

Jacksonville, OR driver Tanner Holmes (18T) is looking to score his first NARC win of his career. Justin Sanders (2X) has 15 to his credit. Photo by Donna Peter.

One of the Cinderella stories of 2023 was Michael Faccinto during the Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial at Placerville. Faccinto, from Hanford, set quick time, collected a large amount of money with all the bonuses and contingencies, and almost pulled off a massive upset finishing second.  The team which he drove for, which claimed the Placerville 360 championship, was the Friends & Family #X1 owned by Alan Bradway, Dave’s brother, and Steve Tuccelli.

Those are just a few of the interesting scenarios and stories taking place on the NARC tour this season.  When you mix it all together, it promises to be a very entertaining season of open wheel racing on the left coast.  So pick your favorite driver and team and we will see you at the NARC races.