WATSONVILLE, Calif. — Mitchell Faccinto completely dominated the 60th annual Johnny Key Classic at Ocean Speedway on Saturday night.
The Hanford, Calif., driver steered Stan Greenburg’s Western Metal Company sponsored No. 37 to a flag-to-flag win in the 35-lap affair on the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds quarter-mile dirt oval.
Shane Golobic could never muster up a serious challenge despite several caution period slowdowns which bunched the field and had to settle for the runner up spot. Bud Kaeding made a strong effort after starting in the sixth spot but couldn’t catch either Faccinto or Golobic and took third.
Ryan Bernal and Tanner Carrick filled out the top five.
Twenty-two cars took Ed Entz’s green flag and 14 cars were still running at the end. A respectable 48 sprint cars signed into the pit area with Willie Croft setting the fastest time in group qualifying with a lap of 11.558 seconds.
Faccinto, the weekly Taco Bravo Series points leader, jumped to the lead over Henry and ran there until a lap-seven caution flag slowed the race for the first time. Cody Lamar had slowed and the group of cars following him jumbled up and the congestion forced Chase Majdic off the top of the third turn to a stop. Faccinto was leading Henry, Golobic and the fast-moving Kaeding.
By the 10th lap, the usually tacky oval, started to show signs of black rubber. Traffic at the coastal area track always plays a factor in the feature event and Faccinto’s luck allowed him to build a comfortable margin over Golobic.
The race slowed on the 20th lap when Nick Ringo spun in the second turn. On the restart there would be a big scramble mid pack on the back stretch leaving Croft wrecked against the outside wall, D.J. Netto spun around and Sean Becker stopped out of the groove near the infield. Croft had to be towed off with a steering issue but both Netto and Becker were able to restart.
The red flag would come out on lap 23 when Max Mittry flipped his No. 2xm in the second turn. There were 16 cars left in the contest. Golobic took advantage on the restart to mount his most serious threat of the race getting along side of Faccinto but failed to complete the pass.
Majdic stopped on lap 26 in the fourth turn to bring out his second charged caution. The following restart was aborted when J.J. Hickle and Blake Carrick tangled in the fourth turn.
A strong restart by Faccinto resulted in a five-car length advantage over Golobic. With five laps remaining, Faccinto’s lead remained the same.
With two laps to go, Golobic made his final effort to take the lead, closing within three car lengths of the leader, but a determined Faccinto finished strong.
Mitchell Faccinto, Shane Golobic, Bud Kaeding, Ryan Bernal, Tanner Carrick, Ryan Robinson, Kalib Henry, Rico Abreu, Zane Blanchard, Michael Faccinto, D.J. Netto, Sean Becker, Blake Carrick, Tucker Worth, J.J. Hickle, Chase Majdic, Max Mittry, Nick Ringo, Tristan Guardino, Willie Croft, Andy Forsberg, Cody Lamar