By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer. Photo By: Rachel Plant
PAIGE, Texas (Apr. 17, 2021) — Open wheel powerhouse John Rickett, stock car sensation Melvin Kemp Jr. and Dwarf Car ace Dylan Budnik all claimed wins in their respective A Mains, as officials at Cotton Bowl Speedway hosted a special three-division program on Saturday evening.
Rickett, of Boerne, held off a hard-charging Blake Mallory to claim top honors in a thrilling 25-lap A Main for the Southern United Sprint Car series. Kemp, of Waco, held off veteran Jeffrey Abbey to win the 25-lap Gunslinger Factory Stock Shootout, while Budnik claimed a hotly-contested feature for the Dwarf Car Racing Series of Texas.
With nearly every track in Texas rained out over the weekend, all eyes were focused on the 3/8-mile oval in Paige Saturday night. Rickett survived four restarts to lead every lap of his feature in the Bryant Motorsports Special. Mallory settled for second, while Austin Mundie filled out the podium.
Marcus Thomas (Corsicana) and Tyler Harris (Vidor) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“It was an incredible night here from the time we hit the track for Hot Laps,” Rickett said in Kragh's Jewelry Victory Lane. “I have to thank my wife, my family, and this whole team for an outstanding job tonight. We were fast right out of the trailer. I just need to thank everybody who made this possible.
“This one feels especially satisfying after we tore up the car last weekend. We weren't even sure until about noon today that we were going to be here. It was a last-minute deal, but I'm glad we made it.”
Rickett earned a healthy $1,000 for his efforts, courtesy of valued series partner SPN Investments.
Four cautions slowed the pace, the scariest brought out at lap 12 when 14-year-old Christopher Townsend went upside down coming off Turn 2. Townsend was fine, and Rickett went back to work.
Kemp picked up a healthy $1,500 payday for his efforts in the Factory Stock race. The hard-charging driver received a gift at lap 18 when the often-unstoppable Dalton Faulkner had a rare mechanical failure and came to a halt at the exit of Turn 4.
Abbey is always a threat to win yet settled for second on this night, while 'Papa' George Egbert crossed the line in third. Dustin Mooney (Forney) and Kevin Battarbee (Houston) completed the top five.
“This is my first time racing here, and I really like the facility,” Kemp said. “If Dalton wouldn't have broken, I wouldn't have caught him. I want to thank everybody who helped me get here tonight.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Factory Stock Shootout were Tim Homeyer, Craig Pursley, Makenzie Vandiver, Chase Schubert and Caitlin Leonard. Three cautions slowed the pace, none for serious incidents. Three drivers led at least one lap, while Kemp led for a total of 21 laps.
Budnik had no easy task to prevail on a night when two different groups of Dwarf cars converged on Cotton Bowl Speedway. With 35 of them on hand, they had to run a B Main to finish setting up the 24-car starting field. To say this is an ultra-competitive touring division would be an understatement.
Jeffrey Patterson made a valiant late-race charge on Budnik yet fell just .306 of a second short, while John Foster crossed the line in third. Foster made the long haul from Glendale, AZ, pay big dividends. Dillon Spreen and Kaegen Moore rounded out the top five.
“Man that felt good out there tonight,” Budnik said. “This is a brand new car, it's only the second time out with it. I'm learning what it needs, and it seems to be working pretty well. I need to thank Greg Spreen for the last-minute help, and my family, as well. It feels great to win one here.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the DCRST were Jason Reavis, David Farris, Drew Stark, David Kulhanek and Cauy Moore. After two tries to get the first lap completed, things settled down a bit for the Dwarf car warriors.
Two more cautions slowed the pace (at laps 10 and 18) for cars stopped in Turns 3 and 1 respectively. Foster drove outside of Budnik to take command at lap 13, only to lose command just three laps later.
Cotton Bowl Speedway returns to action this coming Saturday night, April 24, when the DCRST joins a full card of racing on the 3/8-mile high-banked oval in Paige. The IMCA Modified, Southern Sport Mod, Factory Stock and Sport Compact divisions will all chasing valuable points once again.
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