KNOXVILLE – Gio Scelzi, who was already the youngest ever winner with the World of Outlaws and at Williams Grove Speedway, added the Knoxville Raceway to his list on Saturday. At 17 years and eight months, he became the track’s youngest 410 sprint car winner with a $5,000 triumph with the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions on Weiler Night.
The win came aboard Bernie Stuebgen’s Indy Race Parts No. 71, and came six days earlier than the late Danny Young’s previous record victory in 1988.
Cory Eliason topped a non-stop 360 feature event to record his first ever win at the Knoxville Raceway aboard the Rudeen Racing No. 26. It was the second win in as many years for the Rudeen team on this night. Joey Saldana captured the 360 win here a year ago.
Before a lap could be completed in the 25-lap All Star main event, Shane Golobic came to a stop in turn two after contacting the wall. Brock Zearfoss also went to the work area. On the second try, a number of cars stacked up in turn two, with Matt Juhl and Thomas Kennedy getting upside down. Both walked away.
The event would go non-stop from there, with Kerry Madsen leading early over Scelzi and Brian Brown. Brown used the low side to motor by Scelzi, but the youngster battled back by, cruising on the cushion.
Madsen entered lapped traffic on the seventh circuit, and Scelzi began reeling him in. He made his winning pass on lap ten, and never looked back. Cory Eliason was on the move as welll, gaining a top five standing early and passing Terry McCarl for fourth on lap 14. Up front, Scelzi extended his lead ahead of Madsen and Brown.
Scelzi would lap up to ninth place and finish 7.8 seconds ahead of Madsen at the finish. Brown chased the lead pair, ahead of Eliason and Aaron Reutzel. Terry McCarl, Parker Price-Miller, James McFadden, Austin McCarl and Rico Abreu rounded out the top ten.
Brown was the overall quick qualifier, while Scelzi, Davey Heskin, Terry McCarl, Price-Miller and McFadden won heats. Madsen and Scelzi won the dashes, while Gerard McIntyre Jr. claimed the C, and Wayne Johnson took the B. Justin Henderson flipped in his heat race but was uninjured.
“That’s pretty cool,” said Scelzi of being the youngest to win a 410 sprint car feature at Knoxville. “I couldn’t have done it any later! This is cool. This place is unique. I couldn’t have picked a better time to do it than before Nationals. It’s a dream come true to win here. The lapped traffic went my way, and I kept pushing. I looked at the scoreboard with three to go, and really hoped there wasn’t a slider coming. When you have two guys like Kerry and Brian, and even Cory, you have to go as hard as you can for 25 laps.”
“We got a good start,” said Madsen. “We just weren’t quite good enough. Gio deserved to win. Congrats to him and Bernie. It was a good finish, and being on the podium was a good night.”
“That was a whipping there,” said Brown. “Gio is a hell of a racecar driver. He did a phenomenal job. I messed around down there on the bottom. I thought I maybe should have been up quicker. My hat’s off to Bernie and his whole team.”
An entertaining 18-lap 360 feature began with Travis Rilat leading Carson McCarl and Sammy Swindell early. Cory Eliason was moving forward, and passed Sammy by lap three for third. He took second from McCarl the next time around, and tried reeling in the leader.
Gio Scelzi was showing signs of things to come, climbing from his 18th starting spot to eighth by lap five. Up front, Eliason was battling Rilat for the point, as the two went back and forth. Finally, Eliason wrestled the lead away on lap seven. Swindell continued moving up as well, garnering third from McCarl on lap seven.
Eight-time track champ Clint Garner looked like he would be a contender when he passed McCarl for fourth on lap ten. He would slow and exit immediately after, however, ending his run. Scelzi kept his charge going as he also passed McCarl for fourth. Swindell grabbed second from Rilat with five to go, while Scelzi followed him into the show position on lap 15.
Eliason’s first ever win here came ahead of Sammy Swindell, Scelzi, Rilat and Jeff Swindell.
Agan and Joe Beaver won the B mains.
“My car was a Cadillac tonight,” said Eliason in Victory Lane. “My hat’s off to my guys. It’s a been a long week. I thought I was going to be the one falling out of the seat early.”
The 29th Annual My Place Hotels Knoxville 360 Nationals presented by Great Southern Bank opens Thursday.
A main, 25 Laps, 9:23.6: 1. Gio Scelzi (2); 2. Kerry Madsen (1); 3. Brian Brown (4); 4. Cory Eliason (3); 5. Aaron Reutzel (10); 6. Terry McCarl (5); 7. Parker Price-Miller (8); 8. James McFadden (6); 9. Austin McCarl (16); 10. Rico Abreu (17); 11. Josh Schneiderman (7); 12. Brooke Tatnell (20); 13. Paul McMahan (12); 14. Dale Blaney (13); 15. Wayne Johnson (21); 16. Shane Golobic (22); 17. Craig Dollansky (9); 18. Gerard McIntyre Jr. (26, prov.); 19. Sam Hafertepe Jr. (15); 20. Chris Martin (18); 21. Josh Baughman (14); 22. Davey Heskin (11); 23. Jeff Swindell (23); 24. Brock Zearfoss (25, prov.); 25. Thomas Kennedy (19); 26. Matt Juhl (24). Lap Leaders: K. Madsen 1-9, G. Scelzi 10-25. Hard-charger: Tatnell.
A main 18 Laps, 5:32.8: 1. Cory Eliason (3); 2. Sammy Swindell (4); 3. Gio Scelzi (18); 4. Travis Rilat (2); 5. Jeff Swindell (8); 6. Carson McCarl (1); 7. Davey Heskin (7); 8. Ryan Giles (6); 9. Aaron Reutzel (19); 10. Jon Agan (21); 11. Joe Beaver (22); 12. Kyle Bellm (11); 13. Parker Price-Miller (13); 14. Sawyer Phillips (10); 15. Calvin Landis (9); 16. McKenna Haase (23); 17. Matt Moro (16); 18. Ryan Roberts (12); 19. Josh Higday (20); 20. Scottie McDonald (17); 21. Clint Garner (5); 22. Wayne Johnson (15); 23. Matt Covington (14); 24. Jamie Ball (24). Lap Leaders: Rilat 1-6, Eliason 7-18. Hard-charger: G. Scelzi.