ENNIS, Texas (Jan. 21, 2023) — Rising star Ortanik Mikel, open-wheel hotshoe Ricky Haney and Stock car veteran Bobby McCool all won features in their respective divisions, as officials hosted their fifth annual Warm Her Up event on Saturday at Big O Speedway.
Mikel powered to victory in a caution-filled affair for UMP Weekly Late Models; Haney outgunned a strong field to claim the Eco Limited Modified feature, while McCool prevailed in a hotly-contested tilt for Factory Stock warriors.
Jace Reid (Mod Lites); Jim Moon (Crown Vics); Klayton Reeves (Thunder Cars) and Dawson Stewart (Hornets) were also feature winners on a cool yet decent afternoon for oval racing in North Texas.
Mikel started eighth on the 10-car grid, took command from early leader Sloppy Hog at lap 10 and hung on for top honors. Veteran racer Jim Moon (doing double duty) drove up from sixth to claim second, while Dustin Woods filled out the podium.
Hog (Arlington) faded to fourth in the closing laps, while Randy Kubitz completed the top five.
Finishing sixth through 10th in the UMP Weekly Late Models feature were Kyle Daughtery, Jack Lewis, Trey Langley, Richard Kubitz and Bill Layne. Six cautions slowed the pace (laps 1, 2, 9, 9, 13, 14), all for minor incidents. Mikel's margin of victory over Moon was a whopping 5.718 seconds.
Haney, of Ennis, started eighth on the 15-car grid and capitalized when Kyle Wilkins bobbled in Turn 3 to take control of his feature with just five laps remaining. Ricky Slack drove up from fourth at the start to finish second, while polesitter Brendon Harrison filled out the podium.
Mark Bullock (Van) and David Reynolds (Edgewood) rounded out the top five.
Finishing sixth through 10th in the 20-lap Eco Limited Modified feature were Wilkins, James Haggard, Dustin Sprouse, David Flanagan and Stetson Gage. Three cautions slowed the pace (laps 4, 10, 11), all for minor incidents. Haney's margin of victory was a sizable 3.397 seconds over Slack.
McCool, of Ennis, drove to the inside in Turn 3 when early leader Gary 'Peanut' Fitch slipped up the track, taking command at lap 16 of his 20-lap caution free feature. Fitch, who races all over North Texas throughout the year, settled for second, while Mike Massey filled out the podium.
Tanner Baugus (Midlothian) and Kenny Fielder (Maybank) completed the top five.
Finishing sixth through ninth in the Factory Stock feature were Jeff Tito, Aaron Davis, Charles Graham and Rodger Chaney. McCool's margin of victory over Fitch was just under two seconds.
Saturday's non-points program at Big O Speedway drew 78 entries overall in seven classes. Officials knocked out time trials for the Late Models and qualifying heats for all other classes in short order. All of the feature events delivered some great action, most notably the Eco Limited Mods.
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By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer