ELM MOTT, Texas (March 10, 2023) — Touring Modified veteran Troy Taylor, central Texas short track stalwart Paul White, and local hotshoe Michael Dabney all won features in their respective divisions, as officials hosted their annual Jack Bagby Memorial on Friday at Heart O' Texas Speedway.
Taylor powered to a $1,000 victory in the Touring Outlaw Modified Series (TOMS) A Main; White earned $1,000 in the IMCA Stock Car feature, while Dabney prevailed in a hotly-contested affair for Factory Stocks warriors.
Brandon Geurin (Southern SportMods); Benji Kirkpatrick (Outlaw Street Stocks) and Cutter Bell (Jr. Limited) were also feature winners on Opening Night at the historic 1/4-mile facility in Central Texas.
Taylor, of Midlothian, started seventh on the 16-car grid, drove underneath David Goode Jr. coming off Turn 2 to take command at lap 11 and hung on to earn top honors. Jack Sartain crossed the stripe in second after starting fourth, while Goode Jr. filled out the podium.
Local favorite Kevin Green (Waco) and James McCreery (Midlothian) completed the top five.
“I didn't really know what to do,” Taylor told veteran announcer Rodney Rodriquez in Victory Lane. “The guys were so much faster than me in the Heat races. We struggled mightily during qualifying, but we tried some new stuff right before the feature.
“I want to thank my crew for all of their help tonight, and thank everybody for coming out to see us. This is my 43rd year of racing, and when I first started out, Jack Bagby built me a carburetor. He was a very special man to me.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the 20-lap TOMS A Main were Derek Scott Jr., Jeff Needham, Shawn Sandegren, Jeff Bauser Jr. and Matthew Day. Only one caution slowed the pace when Needham spun his machine in Turn 4 on the first lap. Taylor's margin of victory was a scant .367 seconds.
White, of Waco, started on the pole of his 20-lap feature and led all 20 laps of a caution-plagued tilt.
Thomas Hall Jr. finished a close second, while Michael Dabney (who started 12th) came home third. Raymond McSpadden (Buda) and Demetrius Carter (Alvarado) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“I wasn't sure who was there behind me,” White said. “We go that one caution when Adam flipped, I sure hope he's alright. It looked kind of wicked. I was just getting into lapped traffic and went to the top; it looked like it was starting to come in so I had to go up and check it out.
“They didn't make them any better than Jack Bagby, so to win tonight is very special. My Dad thought a lot of Jack. We have to keep the names of our legendary drivers going around at these tracks.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the 20-lap IMCA Stock Car feature were Trevor Egbert, Dennis Bissonnette, David Goode Jr., Austin Carter (who drove up from 17th) and the ever-talented Jason Batt. Five cautions slowed the pace, with four for minor incidents.
Dabney, of Kaufman, started fifth on the talent-filled 26-car grid, powered around the outside of early leader Michael Bowles to take command at lap 3, survived a late-race charge from Shannon Dulock and hung on for top honors. Dulock settled for second, while Bowles filled out the podium.
Chris Watson (Scurry) drove up from 12th on the grid to claim fourth, while Nate Dixon rounded out the top five.
“I can't thank my car owner Melvin Kemp enough for this one,” an elated Dabney said in Victory Lane. “He put a hell of a Hot Rod up under me tonight. I started that race out running fourth; the car was tight as could be in the early going. After the caution, I got more aggressive and managed to get it done.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Factory Stock A Main were James Schoenrock, Blaine Simcik, Grant Wollam, Gary 'Peanut' Fitch and Heath Zucha, who powered all the way up from 23rd on the grid to earn a respectable top-10 finish.
Four cautions slowed the pace (laps 4, 10, 15, 15), all for minor spins. One of the night's two big scares came during Heat 4 of I-Stock qualifying when Chris Florio rolled his car off the top of Turn 3 to bring out a red flag. Florio was not injured, and thankfully walked away from the wreck on his own power.
The second scary incident happened at lap 8 of the I-Stock feature when Adam James barrel-rolled his machine off the top of Turn 3 in an eerily similar fashion to Florio's accident a bit earlier.
The 26th annual Jack Bagby Memorial drew 127 entries across six divisions. Led by I-Stock and Factory Stock with 29 cars each, there is no shortage of race cars this year in Central Texas. Despite cool temperatures, a good crowd was on hand to kickoff a new season at Selby Holder's 1/4-mile oval.
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By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer