By JIM ALLEN
HANFORD, CA – Mitchell Faccinto pulled off a dramatic last corner pass of King of the West-NARC Fujitsu Sprint Car Series championship point leader Kyle Hirst to score a thrilling Cotton Classic victory at Keller Auto Speedway.
Piloting Stan Greenberg’s TSG Waste Disposal-Western Metals KPC, Faccinto scored his second consecutive Cotton Classic win, which also happened to be his second KWS-NARC victory of his career.
Faccinto led the first 17-laps from the pole and maintained a healthy lead until the fourth starting Hirst reeled him in as the pair negotiated slower traffic. The two raced side-by-side for several laps until Hirst used the low line to skate under the cushion-riding Faccinto on the frontchute on lap 18.
Hirst made several stellar moves in traffic and earned a 12-car length advantage in the Dennis Roth-owned Roth Investments KPC. But that effort was all for naught when Bud Kaeding brought out the red by flipping over the second turn with only three-laps remaining. Kaeding had been battling in the top five. He walked away unhurt.
On the restart, Hirst favored the low side and Faccinto up top as the pair continued to battle wheel-to-wheel for the point. With the white-flag waving, Hirst front wheels went skyward as he accelerated out of turn two, as Faccinto stutter-stepped slightly on the cushion. Faccinto recovered faster and continued to ride the treacherous high-line, eventually motoring around Hirst as they powered out of the final corner to score the popular victory. The margin was .709 seconds.
“Nothing beats winning in front of a hometown crowd,” said Faccinto, “especially stealing one on the last lap like that from Kyle. He is the best, if not one of the best to ever come out of California. It’s fun racing with him and he always races hard, but is a very respectful driver.”
Faccinto also thanked his dad and crew chief Monte Faccinto and car owner Stan Greenberg for providing a perfect race car.
Shane Golobic, who started on the outside of the front row, got passed by Hirst on lap 12 and remained in the hunt shadowing the two frontrunners. He slipped as far back as fifth with 10 to go but rebounded to score third at the checkered aboard the potent Tarlton Motorsports KPC.
Hirst point lead over Golobic was extended from 13 points entering the event to 16 (1363-1347) with only one race remaining.
Eighth starter DJ Netto was fourth in the Netto Ag KPC. He was pursued across the line by 13th starter Dominic Scelzi, who was driving the Gary Scelzi Motorsports Schnee. Scelzi’s efforts earned him the Swift Metal Finishing Hardcharger award.
The second five to cross the line were Willie Croft, 11th starter Nathan Rolfe, 14th starter Colby Copeland, Chase Johnson and Jason Statler. Rolfe’s efforts were a season best.
Eli Deshaies was injured when he took a nasty tumble down the front straightaway on the second lap.
KWS-NARC Fujitsu Feature Event (30 laps): Mitchell Faccinto, Kyle Hirst, Shane Golobic, DJ Netto, Dominic Scelzi, Willie Croft, Nathan Rolfe, Colby Copeland, Chase Johnson, Jason Statler, Justyn Cox, Jace Vanderweerd, Dustin Golobic, Sean Watts, Jenna Frazier, Bud Kaeding, Cole Macedo, Richard Brace, Craig Stidham, Gary Paulson, Eli Deshaies.
Lap Leaders: Faccinto 1-17, Hirst 18-29, Faccinto 30
ARP Fast Qualifier (3/8 mile clay oval): Kyle Hirst – 13.163 seconds
BMRS First Heat (10 laps): Chase Johnson, Mitchell Faccinto, Kyle Hirst, Dominic Scelzi, Jason Statler, Richard Brace, Jenna Frazier.
Hydrochem PSC Second Heat (10 laps): Willie Croft, DJ Netto, Colby Copeland, Cole Macedo, Nathan Rolfe, Gary Paulson, Jace Vanderweerd.
The Cushion/Mills Video Promotions Third Heat (10 laps): Shane Golobic, Dustin Golobic, Bud Kaeding, Justyn Cox, Craig Stidham, Sean Watts, Eli Deshaies
Sunnyvalley Bacon Trophy Dash (6 laps): Mitchell Faccinto, Shane Golobic, Willie Croft, Kyle Hirst, DJ Netto, Chase Johnson.