TULSA, Okla. – Rookies don’t traditionally become potential favorites to win at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, but don’t tell that to 16-year-old Gio Scelzi.
Scelzi, a Fresno, Calif., young gun who is debuting at the Chili Bowl for Clauson-Marshall Racing this week, shocked many onlookers when he brought speed right out of the gate.
He finished second behind Brad Sweet in his heat race Tuesday night after starting from the pole, won his A-Qualifier from the pole and then ran from 12th on the grid to sixth in the night’s 25-lap preliminary A-Feature, contending for as high as fourth in his No. 57 NOS Energy Drink entry and looking like he had a shot at the big show.
Though he didn’t ultimately lock into Saturday night’s championship feature, Scelzi did put himself into one of Saturday’s twin 22-lap B mains and will race his way to a seat at the head table if he finishes in the top six in his last chance race.
“These Clauson-Marshall cars are so good; they’re a dream to drive,” said Scelzi. “It’s not really what we wanted, but we’re in a B, so that’s a great start for us.”
“It’s been a tough transition for me because these things don’t have wings on top of them,” Scelzi added with a chuckle. “It’s a whole new animal than anything else I’ve ever driven … but I love it. I had a blast at DuQuoin and I’m having a blast so far here in Tulsa, too.”
Scelzi said that now, with a strong foundation laid for Saturday night, he has only one goal in mind left to accomplish.
“The plan is to make the show,” he stressed. “That’s our one and only goal now. We’re so close already; we just have to finish the job.”