Gio Scelzi Becomes Youngest Knoxville Winner

Gio Scelzi Becomes
Gio Scelzi in action at Knoxville Raceway on Saturday night. (Ken Berry photo)

KNOXVILLE, Iowa – Gio Scelzi was already the youngest-ever winner with the World of Outlaws and at Williams Grove Speedway, but Saturday night he added Knoxville Raceway to that list.

At just 17 years and eight months old, Scelzi became the track’s youngest winner with a $5,000 triumph with the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions during Weiler Night.

The win came aboard Bernie Stuebgen’s Indy Race Parts No. 71, and rang in six days earlier than the late Danny Young’s previous record victory in 1988.

In additional action, 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, after Joey Saldana captured the 360 win 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 went 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 10 and never looked back. 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 lapped up to ninth place and finished a whopping 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 10.

“That’s pretty cool,” said Scelzi of being the youngest to win 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,” Scelzi added. “I looked at the scoreboard with three to go, and really hoped there wasn’t a slider coming. When you have guys like Kerry and Brian, and even Cory, you have to go as hard as you can for 25 laps.”

Madsen was good, but had nothing for Scelzi on this night.

“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. The team has really been putting in the hours.

“We’ve got the Cappy (Aug. 4) yet, and we’ll keep working.”

An entertaining 18-lap 360 feature began with Travis Rilat leading Carson McCarl and Sammy Swindell early. Eliason was moving forward, however, and passed Sammy by lap three for third.

He took second from McCarl the next time around, and tried reeling in the leader.

Scelzi was showing signs of things to come even then, 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 champion Clint Garner looked like he would be a contender when he passed McCarl for fourth on lap 10. He would slow and exit immediately after, however, ending his run. Meanwhile, Scelzi kept his charge going, as he also passed McCarl.

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 at Knoxville came ahead of Sammy Swindell, Scelzi, Rilat and Jeff Swindell. McCarl, Davey Heskin, Ryan Giles, 19th-starting Aaron Reutzel and 21st starting Jon Agan completed the top 10.

“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 finishes:

410 A-main (25 laps): 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); 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); 25. Thomas Kennedy (19); 26. Matt Juhl (24).

360 A-main (18 laps): 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).