Californian Giovanni Scelzi Denies World of Outlaws at Tulare

(l to r) Second place David Gravel, winner Giovanni Scelzi, and third place finisher Kyle Larson from the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series program Friday at Thunderbowl Raceway. (Trent Gower photo)

From Brian Walker

TULARE, CA (March 11, 2022) — After a three-year wait, the anticipation for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series return to Thunderbowl Raceway was through the roof, and boy did Tulare live up to all the hype.

Officially, Spencer Bayston (1-6) & Giovanni Scelzi (7-35) were the only ones to lead laps, but Rico Abreu, Kyle Larson & David Gravel all held the top spot for brief moments throughout Friday’s exciting 35-lapper at the 1/3-mile oval.

The 14-minute sprint was halted by only one caution for Bayston, who spun the CJB Motorsports #5 when he suffered a flat left front while leading in his Tulare debut. From there, it was an all-out brawl as the leaders sliced through traffic, bounced off the boards, slid by and crossed each other time after time, and completed more passes than you can imagine.

Scelzi, a native of nearby Fresno, CA, assumed the lead on the Lap 7 restart and fought off anyone and everyone who dared to test the KCP Racing #18. Abreu tossed a Lap 16 slider, Larson launched his move on Lap 30, and Gravel slid by on Lap 33, but none could shake the 20-year-old enough to take the lead for good.

At the checkered flag, Giovanni crossed with a narrow 0.395-second margin of victory to claim his fourth-career World of Outlaws win. It’s his first with The Greatest Show on Dirt in his home state and gives the Californians a 1-0 edge on the Outlaws to kickstart the six-race swing.

“You can go ahead and tally one for California over the Outlaws,” Scelzi said to a raucous Tulare crowd. “Seriously, though, this is really cool. I’ve never won a race this big in front of my home crowd. I haven’t been back in a long time, so to feel this support is incredible.

Coming up short of his second win of the young season was David Gravel with a second-place effort in the Big Game Motorsports #2. The two-time Tulare winner faded to fourth near midway, but found his line in lap traffic and bolted back into contention with Scelzi & Larson after disposing of a wild battle with Abreu, Brad Sweet & Sheldon Haudenschild.

Gravel’s Series best third podium also makes him the only driver left with a top-10 finish in every Feature this season. The current championship contender has reached a newfound level of consistency, recording his worst finish in seventh-place thus far.

“I hope the rest of our season isn’t like this running second all the time,” Gravel joked afterward. “It always feels good to battle with the best for a win, but it only leaves you hungrier when you don’t get it. Larson & Sheldon were running torrid paces, but their mistakes gave me a chance at Gio. Once I found my lane, I knew exactly where to go, just needed to execute better.”

The final step on the podium went to Elk Grove, CA’s Kyle Larson in third-place aboard Paul Silva’s #57. It was his first appearance at Tulare since his 2013 Trophy Cup title, and he picked right back up where he left off nine years ago.

The reigning NASCAR champion earned a roar from his home state crowd when he said he would fly to Phoenix for NASCAR qualifying, and fly back tomorrow night to chase another World of Outlaws win at the Thunderbowl.

“This has always been my favorite track,” Larson admitted. “It’s great to be back after such a long time and put on a show like that. I felt like we were good enough to win, but I just made too many mistakes on my part. Hopefully, we can get a better start to our night tomorrow and we’ll be in good shape.”

A pair of California’s rounded out the top-five at Tulare with Rico Abreu of St. Helena running fourth and Brad Sweet of Grass Valley finishing fifth.

Closing out the top-10 on Friday was James McFadden with a 21st-to-sixth KSE Hard Charger run in the Roth Motorsports #83, Carson Macedo in seventh for Jason Johnson Racing, Sheldon Haudenschild in eighth with Stenhouse Jr. / Marshall Racing, Tyler Courtney in ninth during his debut in Kevin Kozlowski’s #57, and Shane Golobic in tenth in his first Outlaw outing of 2022 in the NOS Energy Drink #17W.

World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series
Thunderbowl Raceway
Tulare, California
Friday, March 11, 2022

Qualifying (2 Laps)
1. 41-Carson Macedo, 12.879[19]
2. 2-David Gravel, 12.913[2]
3. 24-Rico Abreu, 12.951[26]
4. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 12.956[5]
5. 49-Brad Sweet, 12.978[30]
6. 5-Spencer Bayston, 12.980[25]
7. 18-Giovanni Scelzi, 13.014[9]
8. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild, 13.038[21]
9. 17W-Shane Golobic, 13.054[6]
10. 15-Donny Schatz, 13.065[22]
11. 21-Mitchell Faccinto, 13.087[4]
12. 1A-Jacob Allen, 13.095[27]
13. 57-Kyle Larson, 13.096[20]
14. 57W-Tyler Courtney, 13.103[12]
15. 83T-Tanner Carrick, 13.104[16]
16. 88-Austin McCarl, 13.105[3]
17. 83JR-Kerry Madsen, 13.115[18]
18. 83-James McFadden, 13.156[7]
19. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss, 13.168[24]
20. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 13.169[8]
21. 41S-Dominic Scelzi, 13.213[11]
22. 14-Corey Day, 13.215[23]
23. 88N-DJ Netto, 13.219[1]
24. 3-Kaleb Montgomery, 13.242[28]
25. 26-Cory Eliason, 13.250[29]
26. 16A-Colby Copeland, 13.255[32]
27. 19AZ-Tanner Thorson, 13.264[17]
28. 2K-JJ Ringo, 13.371[13]
29. 6-Bill Rose, 13.371[31]
30. 24X-Chase Johnson, 13.526[10]
31. 20G-Noah Gass, 13.816[15]
32. 7S-Jason Sides, 13.816[14]

Heat Race #1 (8 Laps)
1. 41-Carson Macedo[1]
2. 49-Brad Sweet[2]
3. 57-Kyle Larson[4]
4. 17W-Shane Golobic[3]
5. 83JR-Kerry Madsen[5]
6. 41S-Dominic Scelzi[6]
7. 26-Cory Eliason[7]
8. 6-Bill Rose[8]

Heat Race #2 (8 Laps)
1. 2-David Gravel[1]
2. 5-Spencer Bayston[2]
3. 57W-Tyler Courtney[4]
4. 15-Donny Schatz[3]
5. 16A-Colby Copeland[7]
6. 24X-Chase Johnson[8]
7. 14-Corey Day[6]
8. 83-James McFadden[5]

Heat Race #3 (8 Laps)
1. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[2]
2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]
3. 83T-Tanner Carrick[4]
4. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss[5]
5. 21-Mitchell Faccinto[3]
6. 20G-Noah Gass[8]
7. 88N-DJ Netto[6]
8. 19AZ-Tanner Thorson[7]

Heat Race #4 (8 Laps)
1. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[2]
2. 11K-Kraig Kinser[1]
3. 88-Austin McCarl[4]
4. 3-Kaleb Montgomery[6]
5. 1S-Logan Schuchart[5]
6. 1A-Jacob Allen[3]
7. 7S-Jason Sides[8]
8. 2K-JJ Ringo[7]

DIRTVision FAST PASS Dash (6 Laps)
1. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[2]
2. 5-Spencer Bayston[6]
3. 24-Rico Abreu[4]
4. 2-David Gravel[3]
5. 11K-Kraig Kinser[1]
6. 49-Brad Sweet[5]
7. 41-Carson Macedo[7]
8. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[8]

Last Chance Showdown (12 Laps)
1. 83-James McFadden[2]
2. 1A-Jacob Allen[1]
3. 41S-Dominic Scelzi[3]
4. 26-Cory Eliason[6]
5. 24X-Chase Johnson[4]
6. 88N-DJ Netto[8]
7. 14-Corey Day[7]
8. 2K-JJ Ringo[12]
9. 19AZ-Tanner Thorson[11]
10. 7S-Jason Sides[9]
11. 20G-Noah Gass[5]
12. 6-Bill Rose[10]

A-Main (35 Laps)
1. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[1]
2. 2-David Gravel[4]
3. 57-Kyle Larson[9]
4. 24-Rico Abreu[3]
5. 49-Brad Sweet[6]
6. 83-James McFadden[21]
7. 41-Carson Macedo[7]
8. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[8]
9. 57W-Tyler Courtney[10]
10. 17W-Shane Golobic[13]
11. 83JR-Kerry Madsen[17]
12. 15-Donny Schatz[14]
13. 11K-Kraig Kinser[5]
14. 26-Cory Eliason[24]
15. 1S-Logan Schuchart[20]
16. 16A-Colby Copeland[18]
17. 88-Austin McCarl[12]
18. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss[15]
19. 5-Spencer Bayston[2]
20. 21-Mitchell Faccinto[19]
21. 83T-Tanner Carrick[11]
22. 3-Kaleb Montgomery[16]
23. 41S-Dominic Scelzi[23]
24. 1A-Jacob Allen[22]

Western RaceSaver Sprint Car Series

Qualifying (2 Laps)
1. 38N-Kyle Rasmussen, 14.563[8]
2. 2-Brooklyn Holland, 14.568[10]
3. 5D-Connor Danell, 14.943[5]
4. 75-Brendan Warmerdam, 15.071[6]
5. 1X-Richard Weddle, 15.114[1]
6. 3P-Davey Pombo Jr, 15.128[9]
7. 31H-Phil Heynen, 15.179[3]
8. 12E-Brandon Emmett, 15.275[11]
9. 36B-Kevin Barnes Sr, 15.951[4]
10. 111-Ryan Delisle, 17.969[12]
11. (DQ) 11-Blaine Fagundes, 14.941[2]
12. (DQ) 3-Tyler Stidham, 15.119[7]

Heat Race #1 (8 Laps)
1. 1X-Richard Weddle[2]
2. 38N-Kyle Rasmussen[4]
3. 31H-Phil Heynen[1]
4. 5D-Connor Danell[3]
5. 11-Blaine Fagundes[6]
6. 36B-Kevin Barnes Sr[5]

Heat Race #2 (8 Laps)
1. 2-Brooklyn Holland[4]
2. 3P-Davey Pombo Jr[2]
3. 111-Ryan Delisle[5]
4. 12E-Brandon Emmett[1]
5. 3-Tyler Stidham[6]
6. 75-Brendan Warmerdam[3]

A-Main (25 Laps)
1. 2-Brooklyn Holland[3]
2. 1X-Richard Weddle[1]
3. 5D-Connor Danell[2]
4. 111-Ryan Delisle[8]
5. 31H-Phil Heynen[6]
6. 36B-Kevin Barnes Sr[10]
7. 3-Tyler Stidham[12]
8. 3P-Davey Pombo Jr[5]
9. 38N-Kyle Rasmussen[4]
10. 11-Blaine Fagundes[11]
11. 12E-Brandon Emmett[7]
12. 75-Brendan Warmerdam[9]