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Giovanni Scelzi Holds on for Cotton Bowl Speedway Victory



One night after taking the points lead Scelzi gets his first win of 2024. (Trent Gower Photo)


PAIGE, TX (March 16, 2024) - Cotton Bowl Speedway delivered yet again.


One night after a race of the year candidate, the Paige, TX oval provided another thriller that brought the crowd to its feet. Huge slide jobs. Crossovers to counter. Battles all over the track. And a second straight late-race duel to decide the Texas Two-Step winner.


This time it was Giovanni Scelzi making his way to Victory Lane with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars. The KCP Racing pilot started on the front row, pulled away early, and out-dueled a fast-charging Brent Marks to seal the deal. On Friday night he took the World of Outlaws points lead for the first time in his career, and on Saturday night he scored his first win of the season.


“I need to go find a top-dollar machine at the casino right now,” Scelzi said of a smile with his recent good fortune. “Man, the car is so fast. It minimizes the mistakes I make, so I can stick it in the slick part of the racetrack. Hats off to Adam (Clark). Bob (Curtis) if a new addition to the team, and he’s done an incredible job. And Aaron (Beiler) is doing great, too. Like I said, thank you to my guys.”


Scelzi is now up to seven career victories with The Greatest Show on Dirt, equaling him with Jeff Sheperd, Chad Kemenah, and Brian Brown for 55th all-time. Last year it took the Fresno, CA driver 29 races before notching the first triumph of his rookie campaign. Seven races were all that was required for him to grab his first of the sophomore season. Scelzi’s early season points lead grew to 16 markers courtesy of his win.


The result also made it seven different winners through seven races in 2024. That moves within one of equaling the record of eight different winners in the first eight races of a season established in 2015.


After topping the Toyota Racing Dash, Donny Schatz led the field to green with Scelzi alongside. Schatz slid up in front of Scelzi in Turns 1 and 2, but Scelzi turned down the banking on corner exit and drove ahead of the Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing #15.


As the early laps unfolded, Schatz was able to stay close behind Scelzi. But as the leaders entered traffic Scelzi sliced through lappers to build his advantage north of a second. The lead grew as large as two-and-a-half seconds.


But on the 13th circuit a new contender began to emerge. Friday’s winner – Brent Marks – threw a slider on Schatz that stuck and quickly set his sights on Scelzi.


Lap by lap the margin between the two began to shrink. Marks worked through traffic masterfully as the Murray-Marks #19 began to reel Scelzi in. On Lap 15 the gap was under two seconds, and then six circuits later it dropped to under a second.


Then on Lap 24 the battle for the top spot heated up. Marks got a huge run down the back straightaway and launched a massive slider in Turns 3 and 4. Scelzi barely got back by on corner exit to retake the lead down the front straightaway. Then in the next set of corners Marks threw another slide job at “Hot Sauce.” Scelzi again turned low to counter and drove back ahead. Meanwhile, Logan Schuchart and David Gravel were engaged in just as intense of a duel for fourth behind them. The two traded several sliders and crossovers for the position.


More traffic waited ahead as the laps continued to wane. Scelzi made a few strong moves through the lappers and looked as if he had the win in the bag. But the red flag flew with two laps remaining as Gio’s brother – Dominic Scelzi – got upside down on the back straightaway.


The crash set up a green-white-checkered finish and gave Marks one last shot at Scelzi. But on the restart Schatz challenged Marks for second and forced him into a defensive mode. While Marks fended off the 10-time World of Outlaws champion, Scelzi pulled away to secure his first checkered flag of 2024.


“I just couldn’t get the thing squared up right to drive off the corner, and I started getting tight on entry,” Scelzi said of late struggles that allowed Marks to close. “Brent got to me and started bombing me and broke my momentum like he had to. I felt like once I got him the last time he didn’t slide me in (Turns) 3 and 4, and I was clear.”


Marks brought the Murray-Marks #19 home second, falling one spot short of a Texas Two Step sweep at Cotton Bowl. The “Myerstown Missile” had plenty of speed but couldn’t quite piece together a challenge for the victory on the final restart.


“We just needed to get a good start there,” Marks said. “Gio went pretty early in the corner and being the second guy on the start there it’s just really hard to judge where they’re going to take off. He did a good job at tricking me a little bit, and when he took off it kind of left me in the slick a little bit more than I wanted to be. I spun the tires and just couldn’t quite get down the straightaway and into (Turn) 1 like I wanted to have a shot at him.”


Rounding out the top three was Donny Schatz, marking his second podium of the season. The Fargo, ND native had high hopes of a win but still came away encouraged as his early season speed continues.


“I would’ve liked to have won that, but I guess third is better than fourth,” Schatz said. “You’ve got to think about the big picture. All in all a decent night. This isn’t one of my best places. I think everybody that has a cell phone could see that all weekend it didn’t look like we were going to get to race, and we got two great nights of racing.”


Logan Schuchart and David Gravel rounded out the top five.


A 22nd to 12th run gave Jace Park the KSE Racing Hard Charger in only his third career Series start.


Giovanni Scelzi took Simpson Quick Time honors in Sea Foam Qualifying.


NOS Energy Drink Heats One and Three went to Brock Zearfoss (15th Heat Race win of career) and Brent Marks (33rd of career). Milton Hershey School Heat Two was topped by Logan Schuchart (122nd of career).


UP NEXT: Two new Texas tracks are on tap for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars when the Series heads to Big O Speedway (Ennis, TX) on March 22 and Kennedale Speedway Park (Kennedale, TX) on March 23. For tickets, CLICK HERE.


If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.


FEATURE RESULTS:


NOS Energy Drink Feature (30 Laps): 1. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[2]; 2. 19-Brent Marks[3]; 3. 15-Donny Schatz[1]; 4. 1S-Logan Schuchart[4]; 5. 2-David Gravel[8]; 6. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[12]; 7. 17B-Bill Balog[5]; 8. 41-Carson Macedo[13]; 9. 83-Michael Kofoid[10]; 10. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss[6]; 11. 87-Aaron Reutzel[16]; 12. 45X-Jace Park[22]; 13. 7S-Landon Crawley[7]; 14. 1A-Jacob Allen[19]; 15. 6-Bill Rose[17]; 16. 25B-Blaine Baxter[21]; 17. 70-Kraig Kinser[15]; 18. 16TH-Kevin Newton[18]; 19. 41S-Dominic Scelzi[9]; 20. 23-Garet Williamson[14]; 21. 95-Matt Covington[11]; 22. 42P-Preston Perlmutter[20]


For full results, CLICK HERE.

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