(1/9/2022 – Alex Nieten) … Silly season delivered an early Christmas present last month when Tarlton Motorsports announced Mitchell Faccinto would be the team’s primary driver in 2022 with Drew Warner filling the role of crew chief, and the duo have prioritized chasing the NARC Fujitsu General Sprint Car championship.
Faccinto makes the move after an eight-year run aboard Stan Greenberg’s No. 37, the ride he wheeled to his three career NARC feature victories and many others in the 360 ranks of the West Coast.
Warner will add another team to his already impressive resumé. The bright mechanical mind has enjoyed positions with other pillars of the California racing scene such as Roth Motorsports, Rico Abreu Racing and most recently Netto Family Motorsports. From 2016 to early 2018, Warner also worked for the aforementioned Stan Greenberg where he was teamed with Faccinto.
The two now head to the team originally formed by Tom Tarlton and now overseen by his son, Tommy, whose all-black sprint car has become as iconic as any on the West Coast.
While the two were happy in their previous homes, certain factors led to their current opportunity with one of California’s most successful sprint car teams. An uncertain future of the No. 37 machine and a can’t-miss shot to drive the No. 21 helped prompt Faccinto’s move.
“At the end of last year, I was unsure of what was going to happen,” Faccinto explained. “The Tarltons, they had a couple different drivers in their car. I talked to Tommy about what their plans were for 2022, and he really wasn’t sure, either. So, we kind of put our heads together on who we should try to get for crew chief if we were going to put a whole thing together.
“Obviously, with Drew, I think he was really good with Netto’s deal, so being as close as we are I thought that was the best option,” Faccinto continued. “It happened really quick. It kind of started as just an idea because the season was still going. They (Tarlton) still had Carson (Macedo) racing here, so everything was really up in the air. I had a couple options open but mostly for 360 rides. Before I committed to any of those, I wanted to make sure I had a 410 ride set because that was my main priority. Obviously the Tarlton ride is top tier for California. I think it’s going to be good. I think we should be able to compete every night, and I appreciate Tom and Tommy giving me the opportunity.”
With D.J. Netto’s elevated role in his family business, the Netto Ag team made plans to scale back in 2022, but Warner wanted his racing calendar to grow to benefit his development.
“D.J. is becoming really busy. He’s taking over all of Netto Ag, taking over the family business,” Warner said of his motivation. “He’s just maybe having to slow down a little bit on racing. He still wants to race and still plans on racing as much as he can, but it’s just not quite the schedule that I was looking to do to help myself grow. I talked to the Netto’s for a long time about it and kind of got their blessing.
“Long term, Tommy, he expects Tarlton Racing to be around many, many years to come,” Warner continued. “It’s something that he really enjoys. He wants this program that his father created to keep growing… He just has a lot of potential in his program, and it’s something that I really take on the challenge of helping. They are about as top tier as it comes in California, and I look forward to the challenge of putting my name on that and helping it keep growing.”
For Faccinto, 2022 will mark his first complete attempt at a NARC crown. The Hanford native has contested roughly 65% of the series races over the last eight years, topping out at 15 of 19 (79%) events in 2019. This year’s NARC campaign showcases 27 nights of racing.
Warner is fresh off helping guide Netto to a runner-up finish in NARC points, marking the 2019 champ’s second consecutive top-two result in the standings. Other noteworthy achievements of Warner and Netto’s 2021 include a win in the Dave Helm Classic and a podium in the Trophy Cup standings.
Back when Faccinto and Warner worked together at Greenberg’s operation, Faccinto produced arguably his best stretch with NARC. They amassed 17 top-10s in 23 starts with the West Coast’s premier series, and Faccinto picked up his first win in October of 2017 at the Cotton Classic.
“At that time, my dad was still crew chief on the 37 as he has been the whole eight years I’ve been there,” Faccinto said of when he and Warner first partnered. “Drew came in. He had never been a crew chief yet, so my dad kind of let him do his own thing, and they basically worked together the whole time and bounced ideas off each other which really seemed to help.
“I think the thing with me and Drew is we’re obviously really close friends, but we’re able to separate what happens at the track compared to what happens away from the track,” Faccinto added. “If he sees something I’m doing wrong or I’m doing different than other drivers, he’s not afraid to tell me. And if I feel something that’s wrong with the car that I don’t like then I’m not afraid to tell him. We both want to win.”
The two briefly joined forces again near the end of this past year when Netto’s team fielded a second car for Faccinto at the Trophy Cup and a couple other races. To nobody’s surprise, they found speed as Faccinto led many laps during prelim night two of the Trophy Cup before settling for third. They capped the three-night event with a top-10 in the standings.
“Mitchell, he’s really grown into his own out here in California,” Warner said of his driver’s progress. “He’s become one of the most consistent drivers I think you could say. He finishes races, and that’s what you got to do to win a championship like we’re going to try to do with NARC.”
On top of his familiarity with Faccinto, Tarlton Motorsports has added another piece who has given Warner a hand during previous roles.
“I’m excited that we were able to get Shane Watts on board with us as well,” Warner said. “I’ve worked with him in the past at Rico’s, and he helped out a little with me at Netto’s. He brings a lot to the table and makes my life easier.”
Faccinto and Warner will have some big shoes to fill and lofty expectations entering the year with Tarlton Motorsports. The team is one of the most successful in California, claiming two NARC titles in the last six years with drivers, Carson Macedo and Kyle Hirst, and narrowly missing a third in 2018 with Shane Golobic. On the mechanical side, Warner will fill the void left by longtime Tarlton crew chief, Paul Baines, who joined Roth Motorsports for 2022.
Even though the new opportunity comes with high expectation, the pair of Hanford residents are feeling much more excitement than pressure. And they aren’t shy about stating their goal of putting the Tarlton car back atop NARC with plenty of checkered flags and a title.
“The number one goal is to go out and win the NARC championship,” Faccinto said. “And number two would be to go be competitive every night. I know how Tommy wants his car to get around the track. He wants you to be on the hammer every race, every time around the track to be out there and give it 100-percent… He wants to see his cars win, and that’s what me and Drew want to do. We want to be able to go out and win right away.”
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