Corey Day rode the Paul Silva-prepared No. 57 to victory Friday at Ocean Speedway. (Paul Trevino photo)
WATSONVILLE, California – Put a phenomenal driver in a phenomenal race car and good things are bound to happen.
That’s exactly what happened Friday night at the 36th Annual Pombo-Sargent Classic hosted by Ocean Speedway when Corey Day boarded the Works Limited No. 57 climbed and dominatingly won on his first night in the high-performance machine, taking him early into the 30-lap non-stop main event and never looking back.
The triumph marked Day’s fourth with the NARC Fujitsu General Sprint Cars in just his 18th career series start. It was also the third different car he won with the series, the other two being Jason Meyers’ No. 14 and Day’s family business No. 41.
Day also became only the second driver to win multiple NARC Fujitsu Features this year after claiming the David Tarter Memorial in Chico in April.
After the checkered flag was blown, Day was quick to express his gratitude to those who helped make the 57 such a strong car and gave him the opportunity to drive it: Kevin Kozlowski (automotive owner) and Paul Silva (crew chief).
“I can’t thank Kevin and Paul enough for the opportunity,” Day said. “This car is legendary, and to be the one chosen to drive is pretty cool.”
Originally slated to start third, Day was drafted on the pole after originally scheduled pole sitter, Mitchell Faccinto, suffered a broken crankshaft while lining up for the main event.
The outside of Day was the leader of the series, Dominic Scelzi, and “The Dominator” got the first jump and shot around the top to lead the opening circuit.
The high line proved dominant early on on a fast racing surface near the Watsonville arena. Scelzi led the way as the front runners approached traffic within just five laps of the green flag. As Scelzi battled overlapping cars, Day saw his opening and jumped up.
On lap eight, Day made a huge run into the first corner courtesy of ripping the cushion perfectly in turns three and four and pulled the trigger on an impeccable slider. Day’s momentum propelled him to such speed that Scelzi didn’t even get a chance to attempt a crossover down the backstretch.
“He (Scelzi) got into traffic there and took it a little too easy,” Day said. “He was enough for me to where I had a little bit of clean air and could run a little bit faster than he could while he was stuck behind those guys. So I got to him and threw a slider at him, and then the lap traffic was really heavy .”
The traffic day he spoke of was a challenge that he would have to face the rest of the way as the main event passed without caution. Day moved around the quarter-mile oval to make his way through slower cars. While Day experienced some difficulties with traffic, the drivers chased after him, Scelzi,
Willie Croft and Justin Sanders, we are busy fighting each other and traffic and can’t make up the shortfall.
As their war raged for second place, Day drove off and the laps dwindled.
Day finished by taking the checkered flag with a 2.905 second lead over Scelzi.
“It certainly wasn’t easy going through traffic,” Day added. “But I just tried to pick out as much as I could to have a good buffer between me and the second, and it worked. There were a few times when I tried the bottom and it blew off there from (turn) four, and I thought Dominic or Justin, I didn’t know who ran second, would be right, but it wasn’t. I’m super pumped.”
Scelzi’s second-place finish marked his ninth straight top three to kick off the NARC campaign, as the No. 41 Red Rose Transportation/Whipple Superchargers look incapable of missing the podium this season. He is the first to string nine consecutive NARC podiums together since Kyle Hirst in 2018.
“He (Day) did a great job,” Scelzi said. “I just got into traffic and I don’t think we were too tight. I think he just did better in traffic… At the end of the day Corey got to the lapped cars and we didn’t and came in second. I’m tired of running second. That’s three in a row, so let’s go back to the first places in a row.”
The podium was completed by Willie Croft in the Amerikote Powdercoating/Holey Smokes BBQ No. 29 as he held on for the good finish even after late contact with the gate.
“I got a little high in the marbles here at (turn) four and just tried to skim over the wall but hit it harder than expected,” Croft explained. “But in general everything was good. We had a great car all night. My boys have done a great job… It’s a bit difficult to make up points when Dominic is on the podium with me, but there are still a lot of races to go. We just keep going and trying to do our best every night and see what happens.”
The rest of the top-10 consisted of Justin Sanders, Ryan Robinson, DJ Netto, Max Mittry, Shane Golobic, Steven Kent and Chase Johnson.
Feature (30 laps): 1. Corey Day 57 2. Dominic Scelzi 41 3. Willie Croft 29 4. Justin Sanders 2X 5. Ryan Robinson 56 6. DJ Netto 88N 7. Max Mittry 2XM 8. Shane Golobic 17W 9. Steven Kent 37 10. Chase Johnson 24 11. Bud Kaeding 69 12. JJ Ringo 2K 13. Kaleb Montgomery 3 14. Joel Myers Jr. 83V 15. Kurt Nelson 72W 16. Koen Shaw 88 17. Billy Aton 26 18. Gauge Garcia 21X 19. Chris Nelson 72JR 20. Logan Forler 2L 21. Mitchell Faccinto 21