CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Dec. 10, 2022) — Open-wheel stalwart Cody Smith, stock car master Dalton Faulkner and Late Model hot-shoe Beau Begnaud all won features in their respective divisions, as officials hosted Night No. 2 their South Texas Shootout on Saturday at South Texas Race Ranch.
Smith earned a $5,000 payday with his victory in the 50-lap A Main for Limited Modifieds; Faulkner claimed an emotional win in a 30-lap feature for Factory Stocks; while Begnaud made it a clean sweep on the weekend with his second straight victory in the All Star Crate Late Model Series A Main.
Brianna Witzsche (EMods) and Donald Cain Jr. (Pure Stock) were also feature winners on a beautiful, summer-like night for racing in the Sparkling City by the Sea.
Smith, of Kaufman, started third on the 24-car grid, inherited the lead with just eight laps remaining when Steven Whiteaker and Johnny Torres both spun coming off Turn 4, and hung on for top honors. Ryan Harris drove up from 11th at the start to claim second, while Garrett Gregory drove up from 18th on the grid to fill out the podium.
Tanner Whitmire (Taft) and Ray Allen Kulhanek (Danbury) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“We've been coming here for seven or eight years,” Smith told event co-announcer and longtime friend Kevin Rogers in Sames Ford Victory Lane. “We've finished second, third and fourth, but we had never won it before tonight. This is what we came down here to do.
“We (Whiteaker) made contact going down the back straightaway. I got a good run on the bottom, I was waiting for the right moment. I gave him all the room I could in Turns 3 and 4; we never touched, but it seemed like he spun around, and I just kept on going.”
Smith was quick to thank those who made his long haul to South Texas a success.
“I can't thank Robert Clark enough for giving me a fast Hot Rod; my Dad and everybody for helping us all weekend and every time we race, at that.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Jude Allgayer Racing Limited Modified A Main were Whiteaker Jr., Marcus Mikulencak, Trent Beaver, Ben Mikulencak and Jason Downey. Six cautions slowed the pace, three for multi-car incidents and three for minor solo spins.
Faulkner, of Cut and Shoot, Texas, started sixth on the grid, inherited the lead at lap 17 when Cameron Starry and Memphis Villarreal got together coming off Turn 2 and pulled away to add another big win to his driving resume. Cody Leonard came from ninth to finish second, while Jared Maupin was third.
Brian Rye (Corpus Christi) and Jason Tiner (Winona) completed the top five.
“That was a handful, really,” Faulkner said. “The Good Lord was looking after me in that one. Something happened between Memphis and Cameron, so I was in the right place at the right time. To be honest, I got a little emotional for a minute. It hasn't been a very good year at all.
“It's been a long season, we haven't had many wins or much good luck. Just to be leading that race at the end was nice, I'm not going to turn it down one bit. After a rough year, it feels good to get a win.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Sames Ford Factory feature were Dylan Elasko, Frank Okruhlik, Cody Tesch, Eric Ramos and Shannon Mauer. Six cautions slowed the pace, all for minor incidents. Despite the contact and ensuing spins, two and three-wide battles for position highlighted the race.
Begnaud, of Spring, started on the pole and led all 30 laps of the Late Model feature in dominant fashion. After a brief yellow before a lap was completed, the pace was wide-open for much of the race. Louisiana veteran Shane Hebert settled for second, while Brandon Brzozowski came from 15th to third.
Kevin Sitton (Baytown) and Matt Fox (Kerrville) rounded out the top five.
“I really wasn't sure how big of a lead we had,” Begnaud told Rodney Rodriguez after completing the weekend sweep and putting another $2,000 in his pocket. “My Dad was giving me signals; I know GW was getting good towards the end. I was just trying to hold him off.
“I didn't know about the havoc that was going on behind me. This is a really good group of cars to race with, I'm gaining experience every time out. I just have to thank my parents. They mean the world to me, and they allow me to do this. I wouldn't want to spend my weekends any other way.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the All Star Crate Late Model Series A Main were GW Egbert, Kody Hardage, Anthony Boatman, Wyatt Wilkerson and Ryan McDonald. Five cautions slowed the pace, including the night's biggest scare.
It came when Kody Hardage had nowhere to go after GW Egbert climbed the wall, spun around and came to a stop in the racing groove. Hardage, fortunately, was not injured.
Over 130 cars were still on hand to do battle Saturday night at the South Texas Shootout. While promoter Owen Pittman may have been plagued by rain all year both in Corpus Christi, he had ideal conditions over the weekend for his biggest show of the year. To be clear, this was a great event.
You can replay all of the action from Saturday night's South Texas Shootout at South Texas Race Ranch with a subscription at RaceOnTexas.com. With over 300 events streamed Live this year, it has been home to some of the best short track content found anywhere online.
The final broadcast of 2022 for RaceOnTexas capped the busiest year yet since its inception in 2015. With multi-cam views, overhead drone footage providing a unique perspective, in-car cameras that allow viewers to watch from a driver's angle and more, the product itself has been greatly enhanced.
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By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer