TULSA, Okla. — California’s Michael Faccinto is hoping to write a personal redemption arc at Tulsa Expo Raceway during the 35th Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire.
Faccinto is back with Dave Mac Motorsports this week, the same team he raced to a third-place preliminary night finish with inside the River Spirit Expo Center one year ago.
However, it’s also the same team that was forced to pull Faccinto out of the driver’s seat after the West Coast ace used a racial slur during his post-race interview on the pay-per-view broadcast.
It was an incident that shook the building, so to speak, and also upended Faccinto’s season.
The 30-year-old spent most of the summer and fall laying low and running selected sprint car races in his home state of California following the Chili Bowl, predominately driving the Harley Van Dyke No. 5h.
He did participate in all of ASCS Sprint Week with Van Dyke, earning six straight top-10 finishes and ranking fourth in points for the mini-series, but through all of that Faccinto’s eyes were still on Tulsa.
Faccinto wanted to return to the Chili Bowl and make amends for the mistake he made.
But equally as much, he wanted to “finish the business we started last year” before things fell apart.
“David (McIntosh, team owner) and Cody (Cordell, crew chief) stayed in contact with me ever since last year. In spite of what happened, they remained big supporters of mine when I raced in the Midwest with Harley Van Dyke. They were at a few of my races and really believe in what I’ve been able to do. I really enjoy working with Cody and I think he’s a very sharp mind. We obviously clicked well last year.
“There was truly never a doubt in my mind that we would work together again eventually; it was just when it might happen,” he continued. “We had some things throughout the year that we thought were going to line up to where I could come drive for them. It just never worked out with our schedules to do an outdoor deal. I’m just excited to get back with their program because I think they’re top-notch people and they have top-notch equipment.
“Since I left the building last year, I felt that the door would always be open with them and I’m really looking forward to this Chili Bowl with them and hopefully replicating the success we had before.”
Faccinto watched what fellow Californian Kyle Larson went through last April after making a similar misstep, understanding the forced sacrifices that came from both of their situations and doing his best to learn from those moments.
Where Faccinto lost a ride, so too did Larson. Now both of them have returned to Tulsa Expo Raceway, and Faccinto feels that “we’ve both become stronger from the things we went through.”
“I don’t want to speak for Kyle, but I feel that I’ve become a better person, certainly, from where I was the last time I was here,” Faccinto noted. “I think you see it in him as well and I’m trying to show those changes in how I carry myself and what I do no matter what ride I’m getting into.
“I hope that people would perceive me as a guy that made the most out of a bad situation and was able to come back from that better than I was,” he added. “I left Tulsa last year, obviously, with my tail in between my legs, because I did something that I never should have done. It’s hard to have to sit here and say that, but it’s the facts of the situation. I made a mistake that never should have happened and had to learn and grow from that.
“Now, I just want to go out and race as hard as I can and get the finish that Dave and his team deserve. Last year they didn’t get that and I hope I can be the one to deliver now and put them in the A Main.”
Given the speed Faccinto had in 2020 at the Chili Bowl, he’s confident about his chances of contending for a top-two spot in his preliminary feature to lock in to the Saturday finale.
“We left that prelim feature last year on Tuesday night with a bunch of other ideas of how we could be better Saturday, and Cody has those notes still,” said Faccinto, who will again race on Tuesday night. “I think we’re going to go in now with a better package than what we had last year. I truly think that we can podium again on our prelim night if the stars align. Obviously, there’s a lot of luck involved in that. But, hopefully, we can have that same success and be there Saturday night.
“I don’t see how we couldn’t be a top-10 car in the big show. That’s a realistic goal for us, I believe.”