By Gary Thomas
Stockton, CA – November 2, 2013…A large & enthusiastic crowd at the Stockton Dirt Track witnessed a bit of history on Saturday night, as Rutherford’s Rico Abreu continued his stellar season by scoring his second consecutive victory in the “Tribute to Gary Patterson,” along with Sacramento’s Kyle Hirst locking up his first career King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series title.
Abreu, in just his third year of Sprint Car racing, became the very first driver to ever win the “Tribute to Gary Patterson,” the “Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial” and the “Johnny Key Classic” all in the same year. The immensely talented 21-year-old was thrilling to watch aboard the Paul Silva prepared Abreu Vineyards No. 24 during the night at the lightning fast 3/8 mile clay oval. It was Abreu’s third KWS victory of the year and the fifth of his young career.
“This is awesome to come out here and win the Tribute to Gary Patterson for the second straight year,” said Abreu, who ends the season with an impressive 10 top-five finishes in his 10 King of the West Series starts this season. “I can’t say enough about Paul Silva, Trevor Canales and all my guys. They have given me great cars all year and it has been a lot of fun. I also want to congratulate Kyle Hirst on the championship this year and thank everyone for coming out to support us.”
Abreu captured the main event after battling with Kyle Hirst and Chico’s Jonathan Allard for much of the 30-lap contest. Hirst got the jump on the field when the green flag waved for the final time in 2013, as Allard hopped into second and Abreu into third. Racing through traffic Hirst attempted to keep Allard and Abreu at bay, as the fight for second went back and forth until Abreu locked himself into the runner up spot just prior to the halfway point.
The youngster would charge after Hirst and actually make the pass for the lead on three separate occasions, only to have the caution lights flash on each time. Abreu kept after it however, and continued to come hard for the lead, which he would finally get on lap-17 with a beautiful move to the inside in turns and two. Allard would follow along on lap-21, as he got around Hirst and began to track down Abreu up front. Allard motored up to his rear in traffic, but over the final couple laps issues on the right side of Allard’s car would allow Abreu to escape and take the checkered by a margin of 3.845 seconds for victory.
Allard limped across the line to narrowly score second over Hirst to cap another strong season driving for Morrie & Katie Williams in the ZERO Sprint Car. It should be noted that Allard flew all the way back from New Zealand just to compete at Stockton on Saturday, which shows the kind of dedication the three-time KWS champ has. The King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series would like to wish him the best of luck as he heads back down to New Zealand for his annual tour down under. Allard ended the year with four series wins, which led all drivers during the season.
Hirst’s third place finish marked his 13th podium effort of the KWS 410 season and allowed him to wrap up his very first King of the West Series championship. When going back through the archives of the Northern Auto Racing Club and the Golden State Challenge/ King of the West Series, Kyle & Rick Hirst have become just the second father/son tandem to win the Nor Cal 410 title, joining Brent & Tim Kaeding. It also marked the third consecutive owners’ championship with the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series for Fresno, CA based Roth Motorsports. Hirst ended the year with three series victories aboard the famed HR Livestock Transportation No. 83jr machine.
“It’s a great feeling to finally lock up this King of the West championship here in Stockton,” Hirst commented. “I can’t thank Dennis & Teresa Roth, Todd Ventura and this whole Roth Motorsports team for the opportunity they have given me this year. I also want to thank all my family for always believing in me and all the fans for their support all year long. It’s pretty unbelievable getting my name on that list of champions for this series. My dad won the NARC title back in ’86, so it means the world to me that I’m able to get a KWS championship under my belt. It’s been a great season out here and I definitely need to thank everyone involved for making it happen.”
Visalia’s Cory Eliason finished the main event in fourth to cap one of the best nights of his King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series career at the helm of his Eliason Racing Composites No. 00x mount. The youngster began the night by setting fast time and then brought home third place finishes in both his heat race and the dash. It was nice to see Eliason finish the year on a strong note. San Jose’s Tim Kaeding, who won the 360 Sprint Car portion of the night, charged forward to round out the top-five in the feature aboard the Roth Enterprises No. 83. The remainder of the top-10 was completed by Sean Becker, Brent Kaeding, DJ Netto, Jason Statler and Willie Croft.
The 12-lap Last Chance Qualifier was captured by Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan and the six-lap Dash presented by Panella Racing Engines during the night was claimed by Fresno’s Craig Stidham, who earned an extra $500 for his efforts. Kyle Hirst finished second in the dash and will receive $300, while third place Cory Eliason will get $200. We’d like to thank Panella Racing Engines for their gracious support of the KWS dash at the “Tribute to GP” in Stockton. The four 10-lap Kaeding Performance Heat Races were brought home by Willie Croft, Kyle Hirst, Andy Gregg and Rico Abreu. As noted Cory Eliason began the evening by setting the BR Motorsports Fast Time with a lap of 13.414 around the Stockton Dirt Track.
On behalf of the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series we’d like to thank all of the teams, fans, sponsors and everyone that made the 2013 season possible. We hope you all have a great off-season and can’t wait to see everybody in 2014. The championship awards banquet will occur on Saturday December 14 at the Cocoanut Grove Ballroom in Santa Cruz. More details will be released this coming week. For updates during the off-season stay glued to our website www.kwssprints.com as well as Facebook and Twitter for the latest breaking news.