Michael Faccinto of Hanford led a central San Joaquin Valley podium sweep of the feature race, and Giovanni Scelzi of Fresno also raced to a main-event victory at the 30th annual Tulsa Shootout, the “little brother” to the upcoming Chili Bowl Nationals for midgets.
The two events, contested on a temporary quarter-mile clay track indoors in Tulsa, Okla., around New Year’s Day, mark the unofficial start of the motor sports calendar.
Both events draw hundreds of drivers. The Shootout, contested last week, had 549 drivers from 26 states and two countries and 1,007 micro-midget cars in eight classes. There were 250 races in four days leading up to Saturday night’s main events.
In the featured Winged Outlaws category of the 30th annual Tulsa Shootout alone, there were 168 entries including 13 from the central San Joaquin Valley.
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Faccinto added the Winged Outlaw championship trophy to the Non-Wing title he won in 2013. He had to work for his second Tulsa victory in three years, starting fifth, moving up to second only to have a mid-race collision drop him back to fourth before passing late for the victory in the 55-lap race.
Cory Eliason of Visalia finished second with the best passing job of the Winged Outlaw featuring, moving up from his 17th starting position in the 24-driver field. Raio Morgan of Fresno finished third. The Scelzi brothers also made the feature, with Giovanni Scelzi finishing sixth and Dominic dropping out for last.
Giovanni Scelzi won in the “A” Winged class.
Other top finishes by Valley drivers included: KJ Snow of Kingsburg third in Outlaw Non-Wing; Morgan Faccinto third and Mitchell Faccinto sixth in “A” Winged; and Mason Daniel of Visalia second in Restricted “A.”
The final night’s events were recorded for presentation in three one-hour programs. For times and listings, go to www.mavtv.com.
The 29th annual Chili Bowl Nationals are Jan. 13-17. The field of 318 includes nine Valley drivers: Michael Faccinto; Dominic Scelzi; David Prickett and Jake Hagopian of Fresno; Visalia brothers Richard and Jace VanderWeerd; Heath Duinkerken of Laton; Landon Hurst of Riverdale; and Chad Boespflug of Hanford.
2015 local seasons set
The 2015 calendars at Valley tracks have been announced.
A highlight comes early with the spring California swing by the World of Outlaws sprint cars. The Outlaws join the season-opener at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway on March 13-14 and also have dates March 27 at Merced Speedway and April 17 at Kings Speedway in Hanford — which, notably, has a full schedule set for 2015 after shutting down midway through 2014.
Opening night at Madera Speedway is March 14 with the Smokey Hanoian Classic featuring a $5,000-to-win, 125-lap LoanMart Open Late Model Series race.