Kyle Larson wins at Thunderbowl, Californians sweep the weekend with Giovanni Scelzi also victorious.

Larson Scelzi California Outlaws
Trent Gower / World of Outlaws
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The six-night “Spring Swing” for the World of Outlaws gave California natives an opportunity to beat the best sprint car drivers in America as Giovanni Scelzi and Kyle Larson swept the first two nights at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California on Friday and Saturday.

Granted, neither of these drivers is an unknown entity for the Outlaws. Scelzi is racing with them full time in 2022; Larson entered the weekend with 24 Outlaw wins, four of which came in 2021. Despite being a part time driver with them in 2020, Larson had the most wins that season of 12.

The theme of California dreaming was prevalent at Thunderbowl. On Friday, Scelzi finished ahead of Connecticut’s David Gravel, but Elk Grove’s Larson was third and St. Helena’s Rico Abreu finished fourth to give the state three of the top-five finishers. Saturday night, Larson and Abreu finished in the top five. And while Fresno’s Dominic Scelzi eventually finished seventh, he was the driver Larson had to pass on Lap 19 to take the lead.

Night 1 featured a fierce battle at the front after rookie contender Spencer Bayston spun from the lead and handed it to Gio Scelzi. As the leaders sliced through traffic, throwing sliders, executing crossover moves and banging along the boards, Larson and Abreu unofficially held the lead for portions of laps without being credited at the flag stand.

“You can go ahead and tally one for California over the Outlaws,” Scelzi said in a release. “Seriously, though, this is really cool. I’ve never won a race this big in front of my home crowd. I haven’t been back in a long time, so to feel this support is incredible.”

After starting the night ninth, Larson may have used up some of his equipment getting through traffic.

“This has always been my favorite track,” Larson said on Friday. “It’s great to be back after such a long time and put on a show like that. I felt like we were good enough to win, but I just made too many mistakes on my part. Hopefully, we can get a better start to our night tomorrow and we’ll be in good shape.”

After qualifying seventh for the Cup race at Phoenix Raceway, (a position he has to relinquish after fixing a steering problem), Larson flew to California in time to make the show for Night 2.

He did not get a much better start Saturday night, and rolling off the grid sixth meant that it took 18 laps to get to the front. Once in the lead, Larson refused to give it up.

“Central California fans are some of the best in the country,” Larson said after earning his fifth Outlaws victory in the state of California. “I always love getting to race in front of these people, especially at places I grew up at.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, but it was technical and kind of old school the way I remember Tulare. This is amazing.”

The 25th win in his 114th start gives Larson sole possession of 25th on the all-time wins’ list – for the moment at least. One of the drivers he broke away from is Sheldon Haudenschild, who already has two wins this season and is destined for more.

Californians may not be done wowing the home crowd. After finishing fifth on Night 1 and second on Night 2, last year’s Outlaws champion Brad Sweet leads the series to Merced Speedway, a quarter-mile bullring 170 miles away from his hometown of Grass Valley.