(July 18, 2020) Watsonville, CA, By Jim Allen … Four-time NARC King of the West Fujitsu Racing Series champion Kyle Hirst held off Justin Sanders in a fierce sprint car battle to score a stout $5000 payday in Saturday’s 10th Annual Howard Kaeding Classic at Ocean Speedway.

Hirst, piloting the famed Williams Motorsports number 0 Maxim for only the second time, become the only three-time winner of the race named in honor of a West Coast racing legend.  The 88-year old Kaeding was in victory lane to greet the winner of this year’s edition which was staged in front of an empty grandstand.

Hirst, who started on the pole of the 30-lapper after claiming the Sunnyvalley Bacon dash, was the class of the field for the first 10-laps despite three caution flag restarts.  From that point on, it was a no holds barred open wheel scrimmage through lapped traffic with Sanders and Friday night winner DJ Netto.  Sanders and Netto made contact with the defending NARC-KWS champion bringing out the caution flag at the halfway point.

Once action resumed on the racy quarter mile oval, Hirst and Sanders turned up the heat and battled inches apart lap after lap.  Sanders, steering the North County Plastering/Alkaline 88 sprinter, actually took the lead briefly on three occasions negotiating through slower cars, but Hirst answered each challenge with moves of his own.  Hirst held on to win by .626 seconds.  Sanders pocketed $3,000 for his runner-up performance.

“He made me work for it,” admitted a winded Hirst in victory lane.  “I like racing with Justin and it got really tight a couple of times in lapped traffic.  I have to thank this team for giving me a great car.”

Indiana’s Spencer Bayston, who started 15th in the 24-car grid in the Tarlton Motorsports KPC, methodically sliced his way through the field and picked off Mitchell Faccinto on the white flag lap to earn the final podium position.  Bayston also claimed the Swift Metal Finishing hardcharger award.

Faccinto’s efforts came aboard the Western Metal Company KPC.   Two-time series champ Tim Kaeding rounded out the top five aboard the Bates-Hamilton R&B Company Maxim.

Blake Carrick, Shane Golobic, Andy Forsberg, Ryan Bernal and Sean Becker were the next five to cross the checkered.

DJ Netto was the class of the 32-car field in qualifying, clocking a 12.041 second run.

Heat race wins were captured by Willie Croft, Chase Johnson, Shane Golobic and Bud Kaeding.  Joey Ancona won the 12-lap semi.

Howard Kaeding celebrates with winner Kyle Hirst. Photo Credit: Donna Peter

FUJITSU FEATURE EVENT (30-laps):  Kyle Hirst, Justin Sanders, Spencer Bayston, Mitchell Faccinto, Tim Kaeding, Blake Carrick, Shane Golobic, Andy Forsberg, Ryan Bernal, Sean Becker, Chase Johnson, Colby Copeland, Sean Watts, Bud Kaeding, Joey Ancona, Trent Canales, Kurt Nelson, Craig Stidham, Jodie Robinson, Nick Ringo, Adam Kaeding, DJ Netto, James Ringo, Willie Croft.

LAP LEADERS: Hirst 1-30

ARP FAST QUALIFIER (32 cars):  DJ Netto – 12.041 seconds

BROWN & MILLER RACING SOLUTIONS FIRST HEAT (10 laps):  Willie Croft, Sean Becker, Blake Carrick, DJ Netto, Kurt Nelson, Jodie Robinson, Nick Ringo, AJ Bender.

FK ROD ENDS SECOND HEAT (10 laps):  Chase Johnson, Justin Sanders, Ryan Bernal, Andy Forsberg, Sean Watts, Joey Ancona, Jason Chisum.

SPEEDSHIFT TV/MVP THIRD HEAT (10 laps):  Shane Golobic, Kyle Hirst, Colby Copeland, Mitchell Faccinto, Adam Kaeding, Jeremy Chisum, Craig Stidham, Jayson Bright.

FUJITSU GENERAL USA FOURTH HEAT (10 laps):  Bud Kaeding, Spencer Bayston, Tim Kaeding, Trent Canales, James Ringo, Geoffrey Strole, Richard Brace Jr., Jake Morgan.

SUNNYVALLEY BACON POLE SHUFFLE (6 laps):  Kyle Hirst, Justin Sanders, Tim Kaeding, DJ Netto, Chase Johnson, Andy Forsberg

KAEDING PERFORMANCE LAST CHANCE SEMI (12-laps):  Joey Ancona, Craig Stidham, Jodie Robinson, Nick Ringo, Jason Chisum, AJ Bender, Geoffrey Strole, Richard Brace Jr., Jeremy Chisum, Jake Morgan, Jayson Bright

The WIlliams Motorsports team worked hard to earn this $5000 check. Photo Credit: Donna Peter