Gio Scelzi figured he had not been aggressive enough in his eight ARCA Menards Series West starts prior to Friday night’s NAPA Auto Parts 125 presented by CashInTheCan.com.
The 18-year-old from Fresno, California, certainly made up for his perceived shortcomings on the last lap at All American Speedway in Roseville, California.
Coming to the white flag, Scelzi saw what he described as a “bobble” from then-race leader Taylor Gray, and the driver of the No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts / Curb Records Toyota took advantage. Scelzi drove underneath and wrestled the lead away from Gray crossing the stripe, a move that sent the No. 17 Ford Performance Ford spinning and sent Scelzi to Victory Lane.
“I had such a good car the whole time,” said Scelzi, a rookie who picked up his first ARCA Menards win in his ninth West start. “I can’t thank my guys enough. I’ve never had a car where I could run guys down and pass them like that. It was unreal.
“I knew [Gray] was struggling. I didn’t pass him on the outside; I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get him. And then he bobbled there, and I just, you know, kind of slammed through the door.”
Scelzi’s victory gave Roseville-based Bill McAnally Racing its 104th overall win in ARCA Menards Series East/West competition. Scelzi also became the third BMR driver to win in 2020, joining Jesse Love and Gracie Trotter.
Gray, who started Friday night’s race up front after earning the General Tire Pole Award in qualifying, finished seventh after leading 116 of 125 laps on the 0.333-mile oval. The 15-year-old DGR-Crosley driver was making his third ARCA Menards Series West start of the season and had never competed at All American.
Todd Souza, the 55-year-old from Watsonville, California, was, in his words, in “the right place at the right time” to earn his second-place finish. The one-time West Series race winner (2008) picked up his best finish of the 2020 season.
Trevor Huddleston took third as the highest finishing Ford in the race.
Love, the 15-year-old ARCA Menards Series West points leader who struggled for much of Friday night’s race, salvaged a fourth-place finish. Blaine Perkins, the driver who is chasing Love in the championship standings, rounded out the top five.
Trotter entered the All American race third in ARCA Menards Series West points and finished 10th Friday after a late incident. That finish, combined with her BMR teammate Scelzi’s win, moved the two into a tie for third in the standings with 408 points apiece.
Love now has a 17-point advantage over Perkins for the lead with two races remaining.
Trotter on Friday finished behind Holley Hollan, Gray, Jack Wood and Takuma Koga to round out the top 10.
Friday night’s race at All American Speedway was the first leg of a weekend doubleheader. The ARCA Menards Series West will head to Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California, roughly 300 miles from Roseville, for Sunday’s NAPA ENEOS 125 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
Sunday’s race is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. PT / 5 p.m. ET and air live on TrackPass.
— ARCA Racing —