Gio Scelzi walks the distance in Knoxville
Gio Scelzi in the victory lane on Saturday at Knoxville Raceway. (Photo of Paul’s Arch)
KNOXVILLE, Iowa – Gio Scelzi led end to end for his third career victory at Knoxville Raceway on Saturday night in the headlining 410 sprint car class.
The Fresno, Calif., Native won $ 5,000 for his victory in the No. 18 KCP Racing.
Clint Garner, whose car paid homage to 1990’s Two Winners teammates Jeff Swindell and Greg Hodnett, won for the 42nd time in the 360 class. Matthew Stelzer claimed his third victory of the season in the Pace Performance feature Pro Sprints.
Scelzi and Anthony Macri fought for the lead in turns one and two to start the 20-lap 410 function, but Scelzi took the lead. Kerry Madsen was quickly in the equation and after a good battle with Macri, took second place in the fourth round. Brian Brown also shot by Macri for third place in the fifth round.
Scelzi was in double traffic at the Sixth Circuit, extending his lead over Madsen. Madsen knocked down the leader a bit, but never seriously challenged the quick California cushion. Brown stayed third, but it wasn’t easy. Halfway through the race, Austin McCarl started to advance through the peloton at a good pace. He challenged Brown in a drag race for the ladies, but settled for fourth place. Macri, Lynton Jeffrey, Shane Golobic, Davey Heskin, Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Ayrton Gennetten round out the top ten.
Madsen set a quick time on the 29-car field which saw several visitors, some of whom paid tribute to Greg Hodnett’s induction into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, including Chase Dietz aboard the John Trone No. 39 (the old Hodnett ride), the Heffner La No. 27 (another Hodnett race) driven by Tim Shaffer, who was also inducted on Saturday, and Macri. Madsen, Brown and Jeffrey won the heats, while Shaffer won the B.
“I feel like I haven’t been here in years,” Scelzi said on victory lane. “My car was great. I knew Macri was going to get to the bottom of one and two and slip me. He slipped me up and cleared me (on the first lap), but I knew I had to get to the top. I tried to run an entire race… that’s definitely what I struggled with this year. Wins like this motivate you to earn more.
Garner’s regular No.40 sprint car featured a split paint scheme with the No.7TW and No.8TW teammates of the two 1990s winners Jeff Swindell and Greg Hodnett, both of whom were inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday. nationally renowned sprint cars. It was a man on a mission on Saturday.
Garner didn’t lose his opportunity starting from pole and immediately shot in the foreground. Last week’s winner Jamie Ball took second, ahead of Dylan Westbrook, Ryan Giles and Calvin Landis. Garner was in doubled traffic in the sixth lap and continued to extend his lead.
All 18 runners went non-stop, Garner working the traffic efficiently and never being challenged. Westbrook made a late turnaround and pulled Ball for the second with two laps to go. Ball settled for third, ahead of Giles and JJ Hickle, who took fifth place late. Landis, Josh Higday, Lee Grosz, Matt Moro and Ricky Montgomery completed the top ten. New member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, Jeff Swindell, was the Big Loader. Westbrook set a quick time out of the 28-car field, and Giles, Moro and Ball won the round. Christian Bowman won the B-Main.
“Greg (Hodnett) was with me,” Garner said in Victory Lane. “I thought about it earlier today and thought I had a guest with me tonight. I’m leading the race and I’m like, ‘Come on Greg, let’s go.” (Robert) Hubbard is in town, and that’s why I got to know Greg Hodnett, he flew around town keeping an eye out for us, and he and my brother teamed up with… the car was perfect!
Stelzer used a fast low side of the track to lead into the start of the 15-lap Pro Sprints race ahead of Devin Wignall, Matt Allen, Devin Kline and Jeff Wilke. As Stelzer walked away. Wignall (high side) and Allen (low side) fought for second place for most of the event. It would be the best battle on the track because Stelzer was gone.
Stelzer entered the double traffic and had to move higher up the track. It wouldn’t matter since he won his fifteenth main tournament, the best in his class. Wignall eventually secured second place with two to go, followed by Allen, Chase Young and Devin Kline, who took fifth place on the final lap. Wilke, Brandon Worthington, Tyler Groenendyk, Mike Mayberry and Alex Vande Voort round out the top ten. Eric Bridger and Worthington were the winners of the round.
“My guys gave me a great car,” Stelzer said. “They pulled an eight pill (for functionality reversal) that gave us the chance to start at # 1. We were not good in the qualifying race. We have to improve there. We have a good car when it slips.