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"HOLD YOUR BREATH, CLOSE YOUR EYES, AND HAMMER IT": COPELAND ACES TRAFFIC IN DOMINANT NARC OPENER WIN

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(4/2/2022 - Alex Nieten) Stockton, CA... Colby Copeland may not be pursuing a NARC Fujitsu General Sprint Car championship this year, but he made a statement on opening night at Stockton Dirt Track that he'll be a force anytime he shows up to compete.

The pilot of Larry Antaya's Fire Protection Management No. 16A led all 25 laps of the third annual Asparagus Cup en route to his third career Fujitsu Feature victory. The triumph marked his first with the series since June of 2019. Copeland's trio of NARC victories have all come aboard Antaya's machine, this latest win coming with a $6,000 check.

Dominic Scelzi led the field to green courtesy of his win in the Sunnyvalley Bacon Dash with Copeland to his outside. The reigning series champion led through turns one and two, but in the next set of corners Copeland made what ultimately proved to be the winning move.

Running a lane above Scelzi in turns three and four, Copeland ripped around Scelzi's outside to take command and lead the opening circuit.

"It's one of those things you've just got to try to go for it," Copeland said of the pass. "It was pretty fast and hard to pass, so I knew the start was going to be crucial."

A flurry of yellows for stopped and spun cars slowed the pace early on. During the race's second restart Scelzi threw a slider at Copeland entering the first turn but came up a little short and had to regroup. As Scelzi pursued Copeland, Shane Golobic, Mitchell Faccinto, Willie Croft, Kerry Madsen, and Justin Sanders all jockeyed for spots behind the lead duo in the top-five.

After the early yellows, the feature event barreled toward its conclusion with a long green flag run that forced the front runners to navigate heavy traffic.

On the hooked up Stockton surface, Copeland sliced his way through slower cars as Scelzi struggled to keep pace, and a new contender climbed onto the podium. Making his first NARC start in the Tarlton Motorsports machine, Mitchell Faccinto drove around Golobic for third as the laps dwindled.

Ultimately, Copeland held on to win by a comfortable margin, but the Roseville, CA native made sure to never take his foot off the gas through the swarm of lapped cars until the checkered flag flew.

"It might not have seemed like a lot of trouble," Copeland said of negotiating slower cars. "But when you get behind those guys, the air gets off your wing and you're just bucking and you get tight. And you know Dominic, obviously he was the champion last year so you know he's breathing down your neck the whole time. You're just trying to run as hard as you can, hold your breath, close your eyes, and hammer it."

Scelzi held on to claim second in his Red Rose Transportation No. 41, marking his 32nd career NARC podium and 11th in his last 15 Fujitsu Feature starts dating back to last year.

"Hats off to the 16A guys," Scelzi said. "They've been fast. It's good to see that there's so many cars out here."

Making his first NARC start in the Tarlton machine, Mitchell Faccinto completed the podium with a third place run.

"Going from fifth to third it was a good first points night out for us," Faccinto said. "I'm excited. Obviously Tom and Tommy (Tarlton) give us great equipment to come out here and compete."

Rounding out the top-10 was Golobic, Croft, Sanders, Tim Kaeding, Tanner Carrick, Bud Kaeding (from 16th, Swift Metal Finishing Hardcharger) and Corey Day.

FUJITSU GENERAL USA FEATURE (25 laps): 1. Colby Copeland 16A 2. Dominic Scelzi 41 3. Mitchell Faccinto 21 4. Shane Golobic 17W 5. Willie Croft 29 6. Justin Sanders 57 7. Tim Kaeding 42X 8. Tanner Carrick 83T 9. Bud Kaeding 69 10. Corey Day 14 11. Michael Faccinto 56 12. Max Mittry 2X 13. Tanner Holmes 18 14. Kerry Madsen 83JR 15. Colby Thornhill 19 16. 88N D.J. Netto 17. Billy Aton 26 18. Logan Forler 2L 19. Blake Carrick 38B 20. Dylan Bloomfield 11 21. Geoffrey Strole 09S 22. Joel Myers Jr. 83V 23. Josh Wiesz 21W 24. Angelique Bell 55I 25. Austin McCarl 88

HOOSIER TIRE LAP LEADERS: Copeland 1-25

SWIFT METAL FINISHING HARDCHARGER: Bud Kaeding 16th to 9th

ARP FAST QUALIFIER (25 cars): Dominic Scelzi 14.432

BROWN AND MILLER RACING SOLUTIONS HEAT ONE (8 laps): Golobic, Scelzi, Faccinto, Day, Netto, Aton, Carrick, Bell, Myers Jr.

KIMO'S TROPICAL CAR WASH HEAT TWO (8 laps): Copeland, Carrick, Croft, Mittry, Forler, Bloomfield, Strole, Kaeding

DIRT.TRAVEL CLUB HEAT THREE (8 laps): Kaeding, Sanders, Madsen, Faccinto, McCarl, Holmes, Thornhill, Wiesz

SUNNYVALLEY "POWERED BY BACON" TROPHY DASH (6 laps): Scelzi, Copeland, Croft, Golobic, Faccinto, Madsen