ROSSBURG, Ohio – Gio Scelzi got a measure of redemption during last weekend’s 36th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway, as well as some bonus cash, to boot.
Scelzi made the crown-jewel feature for the first time in two attempts, locking into Saturday’s big dance with a fifth-to-third run in his heat race at the half-mile dirt oval.
He also banked an extra $1,000 bonus as the highest-finishing driver who made the Kings Royal feature for the first time, part of a special bonus program put on by the track.
Saturday’s race was actually the fourth straight main event in four nights at Eldora that Scelzi found himself a part of, though he struggled during Wednesday’s #LetsRaceTwo and Thursday’s Jokers Wild programs and failed to finish in both of those 30-lap events.
“We started slow, just squeaking into features,” said Scelzi, who drove his family-owned No. 41s car during the four-day stretch. “When you run in the back you get lapped quick, and when I get lapped I pull in … so as not to be in anyone’s way or to be putting more time on your car and engine than is necessary. I would want that courtesy out of other drivers, so I feel like it’s the right decision when it’s just not your night.”
Nevertheless, Scelzi rallied on Friday night during the Knight Before the Kings Royal, tying his best-career Eldora finish with a ninth-place run after starting from 13th.
“That place is hard to pass on unless you have a really, really good race car,” said Scelzi of Eldora. “On Friday we changed some things and made it through our heat race. We did a better job throughout the night and moved forward.
“It was good to get a top 10 at Eldora, though; those aren’t easy to come by.”
Saturday was where Scelzi shined early, qualifying seventh-quickest against a field of 60 cars and racing into the 40-lap main event solidly before finishing 12th in the finale.
It was a far cry from his Kings Royal effort a year ago, where he missed the A-main, the only time in 2018 that he and Bernie Stuebgen sat on the sidelines together for a feature.
“It was redemption in a way to make that show,” noted Scelzi of the Kings Royal finale. “Out of the races I did last year with Bernie (Stuebgen) that was the only one I missed. Our car worked better up against the fence, but you create more tire heat. You run the car harder and it’s easier to crash. I really didn’t need the red to come out with 15 laps to go. I settled in and was trucking pretty good.
“We improved throughout the weekend, though. Making the show every night was a goal and we accomplished that.”