PETTY, Texas (May 27, 2023) — Regional short track master Jeffrey Abbey; open-wheel veteran Shannon Hartline and Stock car ace Michael Smith all won features in their respective divisions, as Kevin Sustaire and his staff hosted a full card of racing on Saturday night at Rocket Raceway Park.
Abbey powered to victory in the 25-lap A Main for American Crate Late Model Series (ACLMS) teams; Hartline prevailed in a hotly-contested affair for Limited Modifieds, while Smith earned his first feature win of the year in Factory Stock.
Abbey doubled up with a second victory on the night in USRA Stock Cars; while Drew Pattat (Eco Mods) and Maguire Poole (Jr. Limited) won their respective features on a beautiful evening for racing.
Abbey, of Boyd, started on the pole of a 23-car ACLMS field and led all 25 laps. Beau Begnaud charged his way from 10th on the grid to finish second, while young hotshoe Corey Neil Jr. filled out the podium. Robbie Starnes drove up from 12th to fourth, while points leader Patrick Daniel completed the top five.
Finishing sixth through 10th in the American Crate Late Model Series A Main were Chris Bragg, Jason Sartain, Brandon Ball, Anthony Boatman and Dustin Woods (who started 21st). Three cautions slowed the pace, all for minor spins. Abbey's margin of victory over Begnaud was a whopping 2.234 seconds.
Hartline, of Ivanhoe, started on the pole of a 19-car grid and led all 20 laps of his feature. Josh Landers started way back in 13th, made a fabulous late-race charge to cross the stripe in second, while North Texas oval icon Tim Clonch drove up from ninth to fill out the podium.
Wyatt Payne (Powderly) and Brian Hopkins (Trenton) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Coston & Sons Ready Mix USRA Limited Modified feature were Logan Griffin, Jack Dupont (the former FWD champion from Shreveport, La., who started 19th), Austin Dotson, Jacob Watts and Jesse Keel.
Only one caution slowed the pace (lap 8) for a minor spin. Hartline's margin of victory was a scant .353 of a second, as Landers was closing the gap.
Smith, of nearby Paris, started fourth on a 17-car grid and led all 15 laps (shortened due to time issues) to earn his first win of the season at Rocket Raceway. Jesse Freelen finished right where he started in second, while Brandon Bettis filled out the podium.
Brett Arden (Athens) and James Proctor (Paris) rounded out the top five.
Finishing sixth through 10th in the By-Line Surveying Factory Stock A Main were Brandon Stowell, Jeremy Fodge, Randy Hoover, Zach Arden and Tony Ross. Three cautions slowed the pace (laps 1, 1, 3), all for quick spins. Smith's margin of victory was a comfortable 1.723 seconds.
Saturday night's event for the ACLMS should have been the seventh points race of 2023, yet three straight rain-outs meant this was only their fourth show. Tony Lindsey, Begnaud and Daniel won the first three features, now Abbey makes it four different winners in the first four races.
Saturday night's program at Rocket Raceway drew a respectable 98 entries spread across six divisions. Led by the mighty Crate Late Models with 23, there was no shortage of talent across the board. Track officials knocked out 13 qualifying Heats in an hour flat, then cranked off six features in short order.
The huge Memorial Day Weekend docket at RaceOnTexas continues tonight (Sunday) with ASCS Elite Non-Wing Sprints at Ark-La-Tex Speedway. The inaugural Triple Crown Throwdown finale will pay $1,000-to-win in both the Factory Stock and Limited Modified divisions.
You can replay all of the action from Saturday's American Crate Late Model Series Night at Rocket Raceway Park with a subscription at RaceOnTexas.com. With over 450 events on the Live steaming schedule this year, it's home to some of the best short track content available anywhere on the planet.
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By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer