HANFORD, Calif. — Dominic Scelzi summed up his Peter Murphy Classic victory at Keller Auto Speedway with just six words.
“Better to be lucky than good,” Scelzi said.
The reigning NARC Fujitsu General Sprint Car champion found himself in the right place at the right time with nine laps to go when Justin Sanders and Corey Day collided in turn four while battling for the lead.
The incident gifted the lead to the Red Rose Transportation/Whipple Superchargers No. 41 piloted by Scelzi, who started the race from 12th. He went on to sweep the NARC portion of the Peter Murphy Classic after claiming the opener at Tulare on Friday and Saturday’s finale in Hanford.
The victory was Scelzi’s fourth NARC triumph at Keller Auto Speedway, making the three-eighths mile the winningest track on his NARC resumé.
And perhaps the most meaningful statistic to Scelzi is that he became the first driver in the Peter Murphy Classic’s eight-year history to win the $11,000 NARC finale twice after he claimed last year’s edition, too.
“I would not be here if it wasn’t for Peter,” Scelzi said. “He dug me out of the darkest spot of my career as a young kid. He made me keep going, and I will forever be thankful for that.”
The race was brought to green by Justin Sanders and Kerry Madsen. Sanders darted ahead as Max Mittry ripped the topside around Madsen into the runner-up spot.
Sanders opened up a commanding lead early on as Corey Day began to charge toward the front. First Day and Colby Copeland nearly got together dueling for fourth with Day coming out on top. Then Day made quick work of Madsen and Mittry and set his sights on a distant Sanders who navigated traffic.
The race’s first yellow flew on lap 11 when Madsen spun in turn one. D.J. Netto inherited the fifth spot that Madsen had held as a result.
On the restart with 20 laps remaining Day got an excellent jump and squeezed to Sanders’ inside entering turn one. The two drifted high exiting turn two with Day completing the slider and immediately setting sail.
Behind them, Scelzi made a couple moves to power into fourth after restarting in sixth. The No. 41 machine prepared by Jimmy Carr made Scelzi’s life easier as he charged from row six throughout the race’s opening half.
“When we pushed out onto the race track before the feature, I saw Jimmy walk past my car and he was wearing my shirt, so I knew we were going to be pretty good,” Scelzi joked.
“It’s been amazing,” Scelzi added. It’s been incredible. He’s changed my entire life… He made a driver out of me. He taught me how to win races and how to race.”
Scelzi climbed onto the podium by passing Colby Copeland on lap 14, and shortly after disaster struck for the leaders.
Day, who had built a considerable lead, drifted high out of turn two and off track down the backstretch on lap 21. As a result, Sanders had a huge run into turn three and threw a slider, clearing Day but drifting slightly above the rubber that was starting to develop in turn four. Day stayed in the rubber and dove under Sanders, but Day’s right rear hit Sanders’ left front, sending Day on a wild slide down the frontstretch and breaking Sanders’ front end.
Their troubles were Scelzi’s good fortune as he took over the top spot.
“I felt like we were, honestly, as good as the 14 (Day) and 57 (Sanders) and we closed in on both,” Scelzi explained. “But as it started getting abrasive I felt like there was no way. I wasn’t really paying attention to how Sanders slid Corey, but I was probably half a straightaway back trying to conserve tire, hoping maybe they’d get too antsy and lose a tire. When I saw them start racing I just said ‘okay I’ve got one or two laps to get right there and hope something happens.’ And when it did I was just far enough away to miss it.”
After Scelzi inherited the lead, he drove away unchallenged on the ensuing restart to claim his 17th career NARC win with a 1.3-second advantage over Copeland.
“We got lucky tonight, but nobody’s going to give a crap in two days,” Scelzi said. “Whether we got lucky or not, we won. We got the check. We got the trophy. We got the wine. We got everything.”
Copeland’s runner-up in Larry Anaya’s Fire Protection Management No. 16a kept his perfect top-two streak alive. He’s raced in three of the four NARC races this year with finishes of first, second, and second.
“Second is obviously great with this kind of competition,” Copeland said. “Larry (Antaya) and Jim (Vanlare) gave me a great car, just need to do a little fine tuning to keep up with Dominic.”
Netto finished third, followed by Mitchell Faccinto and Kalib Henry.
Feature (30 laps): 1. Dominic Scelzi 41 2. Colby Copeland 16A 3. D.J. Netto 88N 4. Mitchell Faccinto 21 5. Kalib Henry 17 6. Max Mittry 2X 7. Craig Stidham 36 8. Willie Croft 29 9. Bud Kaeding 69 10. Chase Johnson 24 11. Mitchel Moles 01 12. Robbie Price 21P 13. Michael Faccinto 56 14. Garen Linder 22 15. Dylan Bloomfield 11 16. Nick Parker 115 17. Corey Day 14 18. Justin Sanders 57 19. Joel Myers Jr. 83V 20. Shane Golobic 17W 21. Kerry Madsen 83JR 22. Landon Brooks 5V 23. Kaleb Montgomery 3 24. Tim Kaeding 42X