PETTY, Texas (Sept. 17, 2022) — Rising star Corey Neil Jr., the ever-versatile Kaden Honeycutt and stock car veteran Marty Hicks all won features in their respective divisions, as officials hosted the second annual Cowboy Up Classic on Saturday at Rocket Raceway Park.
Neil powered to victory in an exciting 25-lap A Main for the American Crate Late Model Series (ACLMS); Honeycutt thrilled the crowd with a last-lap pass to win the Limited Modified A Main; while Hicks prevailed in a hotly-contested battle for Factory Stock warriors.
Jeffrey Abbey (USRA Stock Cars) and Drew Pattat (Eco Mods) were also feature winners on a hot and sultry late-summer night for racing in Northeast Texas.
Neil, 18, of Bridge City, Texas, started fourth on the 25-car grid, powered around the outside of Kevin Sitton coming off Turn 2 to take command at lap 19 and hung on for top honors. Honeycutt wheeled Brandon Brzozowski's car from sixth to second, while Jeffrey Abbey started 12th and finished third.
Jason Sartain (Royce City) came from ninth on the grid to finish fourth, while veteran Brandon Ball (Texarkana) wheeled his way up from 21st to fifth with an impressive performance.
“I had no clue where to go out there,” an elated Neil told 2022 Texas Short Track Co-Promoter-of-the-Year Kevin Rogers in BallisticTrailers.com Victory Lane. “The track was super, super racy. Honeycutt blew by me, then I got past Sitton, but he got back by me. I didn't know what to do with lapped traffic.
“I really didn't want to see that last caution, because I had no clue of what to do on those restarts. The track would allow me to run anywhere, so I chose a line and cruised on home that last five laps. I want to thank Mark and Sandra Erb, they bought this car for me and it's fast; plus everybody else who helps out.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the 25-lap ACLMS A Main were Sitton, Dean Abbey, Chase Jupe, Dustin Woods and Robbie Starnes. Only two cautions slowed the pace (laps 4, 20), one when Tony Lindsey spun in Turn 3 and the second for a spinning Anthony Boatman.
Neil's margin of victory over Honeycutt was a mere .831 seconds, yet enough to earn a $2,500 payday.
Honeycutt, also of Bridge City, swapped the lead with Jon Sheets a couple of times in a thrilling affair for the Limited Modifieds. Not to be denied, the skilled pilot on both dirt and asphalt with a growing presence in NASCAR blasted past Sheets on the final circuit to claim victory number 14 on the season.
Sheets, of Nevada, Missouri, settled for second, while Cody King started ninth and finished third. Cody Smith drove up from eighth to finish fourth, while red-hot pilot Rowdy Day rounded out the top five.
“I'm not sure where that came from,” an almost surprised Honeycutt said. “That was an awesome race, the track was in great shape tonight. I knew lapped traffic was coming at some point; so I was able to catch him (Sheets) thanks to that factor.
“I felt like we were the same speed, but he was able to lead when I tried to make a move on Greg (Muirhead) earlier on. Man, what a race; it was the most thrilling one I've been in all year.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Coston & Son Ready Mix Limited Modified A Main were Kyle Slader, Dalton Ragsdale, Gregory Muirhead (who led the first five laps before Sheets powered by on the outside), Shannon Hartline and Billy Brierton. Honeycutt earned a cool $2,500 for his efforts.
Two cautions slowed the pace (laps 4, 7), both for minor incidents. Honeycutt's margin of victory was a scant .083 seconds, as Sheets fell just a whisker short of the coveted win.
Hicks, of Powderly, started third on the 26-car Factory Stock grid, inherited the lead on lap three when Nicholas Kirby got caught up in an altercation and pulled steadily away for top honors. North Texas mainstay Bryce Pritchett drove up from seventh to finish second, while Chris Davis claimed third.
Brian McHenry (Quinlan) and local favorite Deaon Redmon (Paris) completed the top five.
“I did a lot to this car all week long,” a visibly wore-out Hicks explained in Victory Lane. “I've changed everything from gears to the transmission and springs. I wanted to try something different, and it paid off. I'll be back here for the next race, and hope to put this car back on the slab.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the By-Line Surveying Factory Stock feature were Brian Holland, Jesse Freelen, Alan Screws, Timothy Hardman and Brandon Bettis. Three cautions slowed the pace (laps 1, 3, 13), all for minor incidents. Hicks' margin of victory was a whopping 3.470 seconds.
The second annual Cowboy Up Classic at Rocket Raceway Park drew 140 entries spread across five divisions. With a whopping 49 Limited Modifieds in the pits, 27 Late Models from Dustin Daniel's impressive ACLMS group and 26 Factory Stocks on hand, the level of competition was off the chart.
Officials knocked out 17 heats, three B Mains and five features in a reasonable time frame. It wasn't just quantity that promoters Rogers and partner Kevin Sustaire had in house, they had some of the best drivers in the region competing on their oval Saturday night. All that talent made for an excellent show.
You can replay all of the action from Saturday night's second annual Cowboy Up Classic program at Rocket Raceway Park with a subscription at RaceOnTexas.com. With over 350 events on the Live streaming schedule this year, it's home to some of the best content found anywhere online. Click here to replay! When you sign up today, select one of three options (OnDemand, ASCS National Sprints Only, or All Access), choose your favorite/hometown track and start enjoying great content while supporting your local track even when you can't attend in person.
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer. Photo By: Southern Sass Photography