KENNEDALE, Texas (Feb. 24, 2023) — Regional Modified stalwart William Gould, open-wheel pilot Austin Gooding and Stock car veteran Brandon McElroy all won features in their respective divisions, as officials presented Night One of their Spring Kickoff on Friday at Kennedale Speedway Park.
Gould powered to victory in IMCA Modified action; Gooding prevailed in a hotly-contested feature for Southern Sport Mods; while McElroy was triumphant in a talent-filled IMCA Stock Car battle.
Ryan Powers (Factory Stock); Tyler Muirhead (Eco Mods) and Keagan Haralson (Sport Compact) were also feature winners on a cold and breezy night for racing in North Texas. Temperatures hovered in the mid-40s for much of the evening, reminding racers and fans that Spring isn't here just yet.
Gould, of Calera, Oklahoma, started third on the 18-car grid and led all 20 laps of his feature. Jared Baird started fifth and finished a distant second, while Jacob Pirkle filled out the podium after taking the green flag in ninth. Jake Upchurch and Mark Carrell completed the top five.
“The track was in good shape, and the car felt good tonight,” Gould said. “I just tried to not make any mistakes. Our starting position was about as good as we could hope, so I just tried to take advantage of that. I can't thank Kerry Fryar Motorsports enough and all of our great sponsors on board this year.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Mike Frieri Photography IMCA Modified feature were Michael Ables, Mark Adams, Tim Hamilton, Dalton Pike and Levi Ely. Four cautions slowed the pace (laps 6, 11, 12, 12), all for minor incidents. Gould's margin of victory was a healthy 1.740 seconds.
Gooding, of Fort Worth, appeared to be headed for a runner-up finish on Friday until he received a gift. Vinny Rabozzi had the field covered for 15 laps, then drifted up the track in Turn 4 allowing Gooding to drive past. Rabozzi recovered for second, while Jerrett Bransom finished a strong third.
Albert McCall Jr. (Crandall) and Klayton Reeves (Waxahachie) rounded out the top five.
Finishing sixth through 10th in the C&P Pump Service Sport Mod feature were John Neal Reid, Matt Doescher, Cutter Spalding, Jeff Hauser and chad King. Four cautions slowed the pace (laps 5, 6, 7, 15), none for serious incident. Gooding's margin of victory over Rabozzi was .850 seconds.
McElroy, of Fort Worth, started second on a 23-car grid, led all 20 laps of his I-Stock tilt and held off a hard-charging Cody Smith for top honors. Shelby Williams filled out the podium after taking the green flag in fourth. Lance Hanson Jr. and Ryan Powers finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“Those guys started showing their noses, and I anticipated a couple of slide jobs coming my way,” McElroy said. “Shelby was right beside me, it was one of those deals where I was just waiting for the freight trans to come around. It's nice racing hard against those guys knowing you won't get spun out.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Hodges Auto Sales IMCA Stock Car A Main were Greg Muirhead, Dean Abbey, Tim Clonch, Damon Hammond and Brandon Hood. Only one caution slowed the pace at lap eight for debris on the track in two spots. McElroy's margin of victory was a scant .135 of a second.
Night One of Kennedale's Spring Kickoff drew a notable 135 entries spread across six divisions. Led by 29 IMCA Stock Cars, 25 Sport Mods and 22 Factory Stocks, the depth of talent within the pit area was staggering. Teams will gear up for another full program of Heats and features on tap this evening.
You can replay all of the action from Night One of Kennedale Speedway Park's 2023 Spring Kickoff with a subscription at RaceOnTexas.com. With over 400 events on the Live steaming schedule this year, it's home to some of the best short track content available on the planet.
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By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer