What a difference a year makes for Giovanni Scelzi and KCP Racing.

Rewind 12 months to 2023 when Volusia Speedway Park left them scratching their heads. After five nights with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series at the track, Scelzi could only muster a best run of 11th and an average finish of 16th.

Fast forward to 2024, and the stats tell a different story after four nights at Volusia during Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals. Scelzi put the KCP #18 in the Toyota Racing Dash every night, only missed the top five once, and walked away with a 4.75 average finish.

A variety of factors contributed to the 2023 struggles before turning things around this year.

“I think the biggest thing that kind of caught me off guard in 2023 was we ran second in the last race of the year in Charlotte in 2022,” Scelzi recalled. “So, we ended the year really strong. Obviously, there’s not much in common between The Dirt Track at Charlotte and Volusia, but you get kind of a package that works, and that’s kind of what we tried to stick with. We had the same car, same engine but unloaded absolutely horrible. We changed cars down there. It wasn’t due to lack of effort. The package that we went down there with in our minds just was not the right package.

“When we came back to Iowa, we had a conversation – me, Adam (Clark), and my car owner. We just had a healthy conversation of how to get better. It wasn’t pointing the finger. It was just how do we get faster because in the end we’re all working toward one goal of getting faster. I guess to answer the question of how do you turn it around, I guess so much time has passed between then and Volusia is a track I really like. And what I had seen from the 360 races earlier in 2024, the track looked awesome. So, if the track is two lanes and racy, there’s really no reason not to be fast.”

Another key piece to the improvement is Scelzi’s crew chief – Adam Clark. The Missouri native is amid his second full year calling the shots on the KCP #18. Not only is Clark strong on the wrenches, he exhibits a calm demeanor that blends well with Scelzi’s personality.

“Honestly, what I love about Adam is the morale is not much different than it was last year after Volusia,” Scelzi said. “Whether we win or whether we crash or whether something stupid happens, he’s a really even keeled person. He’s not one to yell at me or to get overly excited or overly upset, which I think helps keep me even keeled because I can easily get emotional.”

Gio Scelzi driving the KCP Racing #18 at Volusia
After struggling at Volusia in 2023, Gio Scelzi didn’t finish worse than seventh at the half mile to kickoff 2024 (Trent Gower Photo)

Perhaps the biggest benefit to starting the year on a hot streak is where Scelzi is slotted in the standings. The productive trip to Florida placed him second in points – 10 markers behind David Gravel.

With the quality of field at DIRTcar Nationals, finishing up front is a tall task, especially over four consecutive nights. It’s easy to dig yourself an early hole in the standings racing against a roster of more than 40 drivers with all the nation’s best talent filling the field.

“I think the way I look at it is the races like Volusia, like Charlotte, like the National Open, the races where there’s a lot of cars and they are points races, you can get yourself in trouble,” Scelzi said. “At Volusia, there was 30 cars that were fast that might not be able to win on any given night but can easily run inside the top 10. Those are the nights you have to run good because on the nights where there’s only 24 or 25 cars, Gravel is not going to run worse than 10th. If he has a catastrophic night, he’ll run 10th.

“The nights in Volusia where there’s 24 legitimate contenders in a Feature, you can run 18th, you can run 20th, you can miss a show. What I’m getting at is there can be huge points swings in those races. In the races throughout the year where there’s only 30 cars, it’s very hard to gain those points.”

Scelzi will have an opportunity to continue the early season Volusia success when the World of Outlaws return in just over a week for the Bike Week Jamboree, March 3-4. And even though he was as consistent as anybody to start the year, Scelzi wants more. The strides from 2023 to 2024 were encouraging, but he craves continued progress. The 22-year-old is a perfectionist with one goal in mind – winning.

“In the end, we didn’t win a race,” Scelzi said. “That’s my goal is to win races. Yeah, we were super consistent. Yes, we had a great week and all that looking at the positive and not being a negative Nancy, but we didn’t break through to get a win. The goal is to win as much as we possibly can this year.”

For tickets to Volusia Speedway Park’s Bike Week Jamboree, CLICK HERE.

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