Gio Scelzi Wins FAST Feature at Gas City

Gio Scelzi. (Bill Miller photo)

By Linda Mansfield
GAS CITY, Ind., Aug. 31 — Seventeen-year-old Gio Scelzi of Fresno, Calif. extended his reign as the “King of the Wings” at Gas City I-69 Speedway to a second year when he won Friday night’s 30-lap feature for the NAPA Auto Parts FAST on Dirt winged 410 sprints presented by the Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series (BOSS).

It was a perfect night for the youngest son of four-time NHRA drag racing champion Gary Scelzi. Driving Bernie Stuebgen’s Indy Race Parts No. 71, he won his heat and during qualifying he set a one-lap record for 410 winged sprint cars at the quarter-mile dirt oval with a time of just 10.413 seconds. That broke the record of 10.653 seconds set by Caleb Armstrong of New Castle, Ind. last Aug. 31 before Scelzi also won the BOSS winged sprint car feature at Gas City that night.

Derek Losh of Rensselaer, Ind. won his fifth feature for the United Midwestern Promoters (UMP) modifieds at Gas City this year in a 20-lap main event. James Headley Jr. of Wabash, Ind. got his fifth feature victory of the year at the Grant County track too; his came in the 15-lap hornet feature. Joey Spiewak of Merrillville, Ind., who won the street stock feature on opening day in May, was triumphant in the 15-lap street stock main event.

The sprint car feature had no cautions but two reds for flips, but luckily all the drivers walked away.

The action ground to a stop before one lap was in the books when Jordan Harble of Newark, Ohio flipped in Turn 4, setting up a complete restart. Polesitter T.J. Michael of Plano, Texas led that initial start and also lap one.

Scelzi dipped under Michael for the lead in Turn 2 working lap two and led the rest of the way. He had to survive a five-lap shootout at the end, however. That was set up after the second red flew with 25 laps down when Brandon Wimmer of nearby Fairmont, Ind. and 17-year-old Noah Dunlap of Wapakoneta, Ohio made contact going into Turn 1 and both flipped hard.

Scelzi had a good restart, however, and he took the checkered 1.233 seconds before point leader Cole Duncan of Lockbourne, Ohio did to post the $3,000 victory. Scelzi’s only real challenge was getting through lapped traffic, but he could work both the top and the bottom at will.

Things behind him were a lot closer. After a torrid battle, Duncan passed Michael for second working lap 18 and then slowed dramatically on the frontstretch for an instant. He was able to resume quickly, but not before Michael regained the runner-up spot.

Duncan was able to repass Michael for second on lap 24, however, before the red flew for Wimmer, who had been fourth, and Dunlap’s flips.

Kody Kinser of Bloomington, Ind. was in the thick of things all night and ended up third, while Michael took fourth place. Tyler Gunn of Napoleon, Ohio rounded out the top five out of the 22 starters.

The modified feature also had 22 starters. It was 10 laps shorter than the sprint car feature and Losh, who started second, led the whole way in the Superior Sales and Service No. 21.

The field bunched up behind him five times for restarts after yellow flags, but Losh was able to post the victory over Aaron Orr of Columbia City, Ind., who started right behind him in fourth place. Todd Sherman of Merriam, Ind., who started behind Orr in sixth, finished third after a rousing battle with Orr in the late stages of the race. Dylan Woodling of Warsaw, Ind. placed fourth and Ryan Cripe of North Manchester, Ind. came from 14th to finish fifth.

Point leader and polesitter Scott Orr of Columbia City, Ind. was running second until he spun into the infield adjacent to the frontstretch with eight laps down due to a reported driveshaft failure.

Headley Jr. started third and led all 15 laps of the hornet feature in the family’s No. 00 sponsored by Dudding’s Heating and Cooling, Garriott Electric, Edwards Automotive and TJR Trucking.

His father, James Headley of Marion, Ind., started sixth and was running third when he and the driver who was fourth, Jacob Beard of Columbia City, Ind., had contact and spun low in Turn 4 with three laps down.

Despite having to go to the rear of the field for the restart, Headley was fifth two laps later, fourth a lap after that, and was back in third by lap seven. He passed polesitter Dustin Franks of Portland, Ind. for second on lap 10 in about the same spot he spun, and went on to take the runner-up honors about a straightaway behind his son.

Franks held on for third followed by Beard and Randy Brommer, who is also from Columbia City.

Polesitter and point leader Andy Bishop of Gas City led the first 10 laps of the 15-lap street stock feature before Spiewak got under him in Turn 4 and went on to win in the Benny’s Place Sports Bar No. 28. Ron Flaugh of Converse, Ind. started and finished third. Mike Fincher of Rochester, Ind. held off J.J. Nordman of Columbia City for fourth place.

During intermission there was an Indianapolis Motor Speedway ticket give-away for the Driven2SaveLives BC39 USAC NOS Energy Drink national midget race there this coming Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 4-5; the NASCAR Xfinity race there on Saturday, Sept. 7, and the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard powered by Florida Georgia Line at IMS on Sunday, Sept. 8.

Gas City track management also welcomed members of the Hoosier Auto Racing Fans (HARF) organization who attended Friday’s program. Gas City’s promoter, Jerry Gappens, was that organization’s “Promoter of the Year” for 2018.

Despite an action-packed, four-division card, the well-run show was over by 10:30 p.m.

Fans who have been meaning to attend a race at Gas City I-69 Speedway this season but haven’t done so yet only have five more opportunities to accomplish that goal. The track’s final five nights of operation for the 2019 season are Friday, Sept. 6; Friday, Sept. 13; Thursday, Sept. 26 for the second annual James Dean Classic featuring the USAC AMSOIL national sprint cars; and the Fall Festival of Speed on Saturday, Oct. 5 and Sunday, Oct. 6.

On Friday, Sept. 6 the track will present its “Friday Night Fury” show of non-wing sprint cars, UMP modifieds, street stocks, hornets and AMSA mini-sprints. The “Mod Madness” show on Friday, Sept. 13 features American Ethanol Modifieds (paying $1,500 to win); non-wing sprint cars, USAC SpeeD2 midgets and the mighty hornet division.

Fans can see the track’s complete 2019 schedule and get additional information on its website at Fans can also follow it on Facebook (@GasCitySpeedwayOnTheGas), Twitter (@GasCitySpeedway) and Instagram (@GasCitySpeedway).

The results:

FAST Winged 410 Sprints Group Qualifying Results: 1. Gio Scelzi, 10.413*; 2. Brandon Wimmer, 10.650; 3. Kody Kinser, 10.757; 4. Brandon Long, 10.821; 5. Brinton Marvel, 10.872; 6. Brandon Matus, 10.884; 7. Cole Duncan, 10.885; 8. T.J. Michael, 10.889; 9. Max Stambaugh, 10.903; 10. Tyler Gunn, 10.957; 11. Paul May, 10.973; 12. Andy Bishop, 10.994; 13. Lee Jacobs, 11.008; 14. Landon Lalonde, 11.086; 15. Jordan Harble, 11.115; 16. Cody Bova, 11.139; 17. Critter Malone, 11.153; 18. Tylar Rankin, 11.202; 19. Adam Byrkett, 11.217; 20. Mark Imler, 11.264; 21. Noah Dunlap, 11.272; 22. Brent Matus, 11.981.

* All-time winged 410 sprint track qualifying record.

FAST on Dirt Winged Sprint Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. Gio Scelzi, 2. T.J. Michael, 3. Brandon Matus, 4. Lee Jacobs, 5. Brandon Long, 6. Cody Bova, 7. Landon Lalonde, 8. Tylar Rankin. Time: 7.06.

FAST on Dirt Winged Sprint Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Andy Bishop, 2. Jordan Harble, 3. Kody Kinser, 4. Brinton Marvel, 5. Adam Byrkett, 6. Critter Malone, 7. Brent Matus. Time: 5:06.

FAST on Dirt Winged Sprint Heat 3 (8 laps): 1. Max Stambaugh, 2. Cole Duncan, 3. Tyler Gunn, 4. Brandon Wimmer, 5. Paul May, 6. Mark Imler, 7. Noah Dunlap. Time: 5:49.

FAST on Dirt Winged Sprint Feature (30 laps): 1. Gio Scelzi, 2. Cole Duncan, 3. Kody Kinser, 4. T.J. Michael, 5. Tyler Gunn, 6. Lee Jacobs, 7. Max Stambaugh, 8. Brandon Matus, 9. Brinton Marvel, 10. Paul May, 11. Brandon Long, 12. Cody Bova, 13. Critter Malone, 14. Andy Bishop, 15. Adam Byrkett, 16. Mark Imler, 17. Tylar Rankin, 18. Landon Lalonde, 19. Brandon Wimmer, 20. Noah Dunlap, 21. Brent Matus, 22. Jordan Harble. Time: 36.04; two reds, no yellows. Elapsed time for green-flag laps: 26.41.