Alton, VA - Jonathan Kotyk, coming out of the final corner at VIR, got the run he needed to win by a nose for Team Pelfrey, beating Zach Holden to the line by .020 seconds with Lance Fenderson another .050 seconds back in a thrilling three-wide finish in the first race of 2017 for the F1600 Championship Series.
"It's a really great feeling. This is my first car race, I just moved up from karts," said Kotyk. "I just can't thank everyone enough. I definitely learned a lot and I think we'll have a good car tomorrow."
Kotyk led most of the way in an exciting two car battle with K-Hill's Lance Fenderson as the two broke away from the F1600 field.
Holden caught them with three laps to go to make the all-green-flag 14-lap race a little more exciting, but couldn't quite hold onto the victory in round one of the 21-race season.
"I thought I had it," said Holden, "but I short shifted. I was too busy looking in my mirrors. It was an amazing finish; super close."
Fenderson, also driving for K-Hill Motorsports, finished third after leading on the opening lap with a move in turn one.
"It was a great race from the start. I got the lead on the first lap which was very exciting. Kotyk and I broke away and then Zach caught up, making it an exciting last couple of laps," added Fenderson.
Joe Colasacco came home in fourth to win the Masters Class for Auriana Racing.
"It was a fun race. The kids are quick but we'll get there. The car has improved a lot from last year. Thanks to my crew, Ed and Glen, who got the car sorted out. It's good to be down here on such a nice weekend," Colasacco said.
Matthew Colwey finished fifth for Team Pelfrey after being forced to start last with an issue prior to the race. Cowley, who has two years of British Formula F experience, will start second on Sunday morning alongside Holden, who qualified on pole for the second race of the weekend with a quick time of 1:58.880.
Team Pelfrey's David Osborne was sixth in his Series debut in F1600 for Team Pelfrey.
Dexter Czuba was seventh with Scott Rubenzer right behind in eighth; while Yuven Sundaramoorthy finished ninth on his Series debut.
Sundaramoorthy, driving for K-Hill, started first but went off on the opening lap while challenging for the lead. After falling back to 17th, he put in a recovery drive over 14 laps to salvage a ninth place result.
John Dole completed the top 10, third in the Masters Class behind Colasacco and Rubenzer.
Of note, Ryan Bjerke ran as high as third in the early going for Raceworks but retired mid-way through the race.
The F1600 Championship Series weekend continues with round two and three of the 21-race season on Sunday from VIR, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. local time.