TULARE, Calif. — The Peter Murphy Classic continues to bring out absolute best out in Dominic Scelzi.
It‘s the race named after his friend who encouraged him to keep trying through the days he wanted to quit racing. It‘s the race that same friend has worked so hard to grow into one of California‘s premier events. And it‘s the race where Scelzi continues to make his way into victory lane to honor his friend.
The Fresno native slid past Shane Golobic with seven laps to go and held off a hard charging Colby Copeland to win the NARC Fujitsu General Sprint Car Feature at Thunderbowl Raceway on the opening night of the Peter Murphy Classic and take home a $3,500 check.
It was Scelzi‘s fifth straight sprint car victory in the Peter Murphy Classic after sweeping all four in 2021, his 16th career NARC Fujitsu Feature victory and first of 2022, and he joined Brent Kaeding, Jason Meyers, and Kyle Hirst as the only drivers to win three consecutive NARC races at the Thunderbowl.
“Last year we had an amazing year,” Scelzi said. “Now everyone‘s gotten better. Everyone‘s worked their butt off. Nobody wants to come in here and run second or third, us included. We‘ve been doing a lot of second and thirds this year. I felt like that was a hell of a race. Last year it was pretty great to get the eleven grand here, and it‘s great to start off one-for-one so far.”
The field was led to green by Sunnyvalley Bacon Dash winner, Bud Kaeding, with Golobic on his outside.
The opening lap of the race was halted by a pair of yellows as Michael Faccinto spun in turn four, and then on the next attempt a pileup on the backstretch including Justin Sanders, D.J. Netto, Robbie Price, and Nick Parker brought out the caution.
On the next complete restart Golobic rolled his NOS Energy Drink/Elk Grove Ford No. 17W under Kaeding to lead lap one. Behind Golobic, Kaeding, and the fourth-starting Scelzi battled for the runner-up spot until the race‘s first red flag flew for a flipping Burt Foland Jr. The length of the early cautions necessitated an open red for teams to refuel.
A quick yellow for Corey Day again slowed the pace on the restart attempt.
Once the race resumed again Kerry Madsen and a charging Mitchell Faccinto passed Kaeding to take the third and fourth spots, but then Madsen slowed with an issue on lap eight to bring out another caution.
The race finally got into an undisturbed rhythm with less than 20 laps to go. Golobic distanced himself as Scelzi had to fend off challenges from Faccinto and Kaeding. Behind them 13th-starting Colby Copeland clawed his way into fourth in the Antaya Motorsports/Fire Management Protection No. 16a.
“The race track turned out great,” Scelzi said. “I was really bummed early with how wet it was and the ruts, but it actually turned out really good. There was a top and a bottom.”
Scelzi managed to get away from Faccinto and began to track down Golobic as traffic thickened inside 10 laps to go. In one set of corners a move on a slower car cost Golobic momentum, and Scelzi pounced.
Scelzi looked to Golobic‘s inside down the front stretch as they crossed the line with seven circuits to go. Golobic protected, and the two nearly touched. Golobic drifted high in turn two, but Scelzi kept his Whipple Superchargers/Red Rose Transportations No. 41 glued to the bottom and caught the moisture out of turn two, launching him down the backstretch. Then in turn three Scelzi threw a slider, making slight contact with Golobic‘s left front as they exited turn four.
“I don‘t think we were better than Shane. I think we were equal,” Scelzi noted. “He just got to a lapped car at the wrong time.”
Scelzi drove away after making the move. A late yellow and red bunched the field back together, but Scelzi went unchallenged as he cruised to a 1.285-second victory over Copeland who passed Faccinto and Golobic on a late restart.
“We got him (Golobic) in lapped traffic,” Scelzi said of what ultimately made the difference. “He didn‘t do anything wrong. Sometimes it‘s just better to be running second.”
Copeland‘s runner-up result marked his second straight top-two finish with NARC after winning the season opener last month.
“That yellow there definitely saved me,” Copeland said. “It let me gather my marbles a little bit and it worked out good for us. Dominic was just in his own league tonight.”
Golobic‘s third-place run was his seventh consecutive top-five finish at Tulare with NARC. While it was a strong effort, he couldn‘t help but be a little disappointed after leading laps and the contact with Scelzi.
“Yeah, I think there was a little contact on the left-front,” Golobic commented. “He kind of put me in a spot where I had to make a decision to try and circle around him and hope for the best. And it wasn‘t going to happen so I lifted. Had I made a decision sooner to maybe diamond it might‘ve been better.”
Feature (30 laps): 1. Dominic Scelzi 41 2. Colby Copeland 16A 3. Shane Golobic 17W 4. Mitchell Faccinto 21 5. Craig Stidham 36 6. D.J. Netto 88N 7. Bud Kaeding 69 8. Chase Johnson 24 9. Michael Faccinto 56 10. Mitchel Moles 11. Garen Linder 22 12. Willie Croft 29 13. Landon Brooks 5V 14. Robbie Price 21P 15. Billy Aton 26 16. Max Mittry 2X 17. Nick Parker 115 18. Logan Forler 2L 19. Geoffrey Strole 09S 20. Tim Kaeding 42X 21. Kaleb Montgomery 3 22. Steven Kent 37 23. Kerry Madsen 83JR 24. Corey Day 14 25. Burt Foland Jr. 4 26. Justin Sanders 57