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Cotton Classic Marks Penultimate King of the West Event of the Season on Saturday

From Gary Thomas

HANFORD, Cal. (October 14, 2016) — Paradise, California’s Kyle Hirst enters the start of two races to go in his bid at becoming the second driver in King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series history to reach three career titles, with this Saturday’s penultimate round taking place at the Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford.

Saturday’s outing marks the 31st annual Penny Newman Grain Cotton Classic, which is part of a two-night weekend at the Keller Auto Speedway, with Friday featuring a $2,000-to-win/ $500-to-start Winged 360 Sprint Car show. The event has been one of the long standing & prestigious showcases in the Central Valley over the years. With the exception of 2014 the Cotton Classic has been held at the Kings County Fairgrounds venue every season since the mid 1980’s.

Fresno’s Cory Eliason is the defending winner of the Penny Newman Grain Cotton Classic and will be gunning to make it back-to-back on Saturday. The ultra talented driver captured the only King of the West visit to the Keller Auto Speedway so far this year on July 9. Eliason also wheeled his Reitz Almond Harvesting/ Driven Performance 00jr machine to a series win at the Stockton Dirt Track on July 10, along with a runner up effort at Calistoga in June.

Two-time King of the West champion & current point leader Kyle Hirst goes into the Cotton Classic on the strength of his sixth win of the season last weekend in Tulare aboard the Roth Motorsports/ Tarlton & Son No. 21x mount. The Paradise, CA driver holds a 31-point lead at the top of the standings with just two events remaining in the 2016 season. Hirst is looking to join Jonathan Allard & Brent Kaeding as the third driver to reach at least three titles.

Still looking to chip away at the point lead Campbell’s Bud Kaeding enters the Keller Auto Speedway on Saturday hoping to put together a solid night. The three-time USAC Silver Crown champion ran second to Hirst last week in Tulare at the helm of the Williams Motorsports/ Alviso Rock ZERO machine. Kaeding has raced to four King of the West victories this season and over the years has always been a threat in Hanford.

Clarksburg’s Justyn Cox comes into the Penny Newmany Grain Cotton Classic on the heels of a career best King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series finish last weekend. The first-year KWS competitor led laps & earned a solid third place finish in the feature behind the wheel of the Berco Redwood/ PM Truck Repair No. 31c Sprinter. Cox ranks third in the standings going into the penultimate event of the season on Saturday.

One of the most consistent drivers as of late has been Hanford’s DJ Netto, who has tallied four straight top-five finishes in the Tri-C Manufacturing/ Shell Rotella No. 3c machine. The 20-year-old claimed a runner up finish last Friday at Ocean Speedway and will look for his first win of the season at the Penny Newman Grain Cotton Classic. Netto stands fourth in the points going into his home track of Keller Auto Speedway.

Rounding out the top-five going into the 31st annual Penny Newman Grain Cotton Classic is Grass Valley’s Jason Statler. The 2004 King of the West champion scored finishes of seventh & eighth last weekend aboard the familiar DF Rios Motorsports/ YAK Graphics 00 Sprinter. Completing the top-10 in points going into the penultimate race of 2016 are Atwater’s Sean Watts, Gilroy’s Jarrett Soares, Hanford’s Mitchell Faccinto, Fremont’s Shane Golobic and Penngrove’s Chase Johnson.

San Jose’s Tim Kaeding has hoisted the cotton bale trophy three times before in his career and will look to make it number four on Saturday in the Roth Motorsports/ HR Livestock Transportation No. 83jr Sprinter. The two-time King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series champion claimed his Cotton Classic triumphs in 2002, 2012 & ’13, with two of those featuring last lap passes for the win.

More drivers expected to tackle the Keller Auto Speedway on Saturday will include Fresno’s Dominic Scelzi, who earned a King of the West victory in Hanford last season, along with Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan, Roseville’s Colby Copeland, Campbell’s Brent Kaeding, Coarsegold’s Scott Parker, Fresno’s Craig Stidham, Oakdale’s Shawn Conde, Riverdale’s Landon Hurst, Madera Ranchos’ Dalton Hill, Cottonwood’s Lucas Ashe, Murrieta’s Cori Andrews and others.

Tickets for the 31st annual Penny Newman Grain Cotton Classic on Saturday will cost $20 for adults, with students 6-18 and seniors 55 & over $17, kids 5 & under are free. On Friday night for the King of Kings Winged 360 Sprint Car event adult tickets will be $18, with students/seniors $15. A two night adult weekend pass at the gate on Friday will be available for $30 and a student/senior weekend pass will be $25. All seating is general admission during the weekend.

The pit booth will open at 2pm, with the front gate opening at 4:30pm each day. Cars will be on track for wheel packing around 5:30pm, with qualifying & heat races to follow. The Keller Auto Speedway is a 3/8 mile clay oval located on the Kings County Fairgrounds in Hanford, California. The physical address is 801 S. 10th Ave. Hanford, Ca 93230. More info can be found at

After the Cotton Classic the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series will then close the season with the 33rd annual Tribute to Gary Patterson at the Stockton Dirt Track on Saturday November 5. The night of racing also features the championship finale for the Civil War 360 Sprint Car Series presented by Flowmaster for the third consecutive year. Friday November 4 showcases the season-finale for the Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Sprints. Camping can be reserved by calling 916-370-9417.

Tickets are on sale for the King of the West & Civil War championship finale, with reserved upper deck seats $30 & general admission bleachers $20. Kids 10 & under are FREE in the lower bleachers. Box seating is also available in increments of six & eight seats. To order tickets online visit—king-of-the-west–civil/dates/Nov-05-2016_at_1200PM – During the day on Saturday November 5 a car show & live band will entertain the crowd behind the grandstands from noon-4pm.