Tidwell, Neil, Downey score big wins at Texas Grand

By Phil Whipple,
RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer

CLEVELAND, Texas (Nov. 13, 2021) — Modified master Cody Tidwell, rising star Corey Neil Jr. and stock car veteran Thomas Downey Sr. all won features in their respective divisions, as officials hosted Night 2 of their 26th annual Renegade Race Fuels Texas Grand on Saturday at 105 Speedway.

Tidwell powered to victory in the IMCA Modified A Main; Neil earned his second straight win in this event in Limited Modified; while Downey earned his second career Factory Stock victory in the Grand.

Dalton Faulkner (Pure Stock); Jt Garland (Street Stock/with a big payout of $3,250); and Corey Babbitt (Texas Mod Lites) were also feature winners on the biggest and final night of the season at the storied oval in southeast Texas.

Tidwell, of Round Rock, led all 20 laps of the Modified feature after waiting through four cautions. Craig Oakes gave chase all race long yet settled for second, while Dalton Knox filled out the podium in third. Ryan Doyon (La Coste) and polesitter Joe Gomez (Blue Ridge) completed the top five.

“In that late-race caution when Craig got around me, I really didn't know where to go,” Tidwell told energetic P.A. announcer Caleb McFarland in Victory Lane. “I was staying down on the bottom, saw him come around me and thought I better move up a little bit.

“I appreciate him racing me clean, because I know it was tight. This is absolutely awesome; my first time here and we pull off a big win. There's a way bigger crowd here than I'm used to, so this is sweet.”

Finishing sixth through 10th in the IMCA Modified A Main were Jeff Hoegh, Ryan Slott, Bailey Dosser, Adam James and Cody Duke (who was actually disqualified out of fourth place). Tidwell's margin of victory was a healthy 1.685 seconds, as he had his machine on rails around the fast 105 oval.

Neil, of Warren, Texas, prevailed in a caution-plagued 30-lap affair for the Limited Modified warriors. Garrett Higgins had a stout car, yet those cautions kept him from mounting a real challenge. Higgins settled for second, while Joe Butler Sr. filled out the podium in third. Neil earned a $3,000 paycheck.

Kalif Sellier (Richmond) and John Whittington (Vidor) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

“The car was awesome all weekend,” Neil said after the win. “I have to give a big thanks to my crew for a great setup. In these big shows, you have to be good right from the start. It takes a lot of support to do this, so I also want to thank all of our great sponsors for making this win possible. I'm pretty happy.”

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Limited Modified feature were Chad Comer, Joe Pontin Jr., Marcus Black, Nick Vandiver and Tim Boudreaux. Nine cautions slowed the pace, most for multi-car spins and all for minor incidents. Neil's margin of victory was 1.192 seconds, a big gap for this competitive class.

Downey Sr., of Baytown, easily had the most heartwarming victory of the night in Factory Stock. Jason McCool settled for second, while Nick Kirby crossed the line in third. Michael Brown (Huntsville) and Jacob Wilburn (Highlands) completed the top five.

As the patriarch of a highly-respected racing family (his sons Thomas Jr., or TJ, and Jason are also fine racers), Downey has endured some health issues the last few years. The win was pretty special to him.

“Honestly, about eight months ago I didn't think I was going to be racing any more,” the humble gentleman said in Victory Lane. “But I have a clean bill of health from my Doctor now. I'm thrilled.

“Colt (Beaver) and I are really good friends both on and away from the race tracks. Our boys played ball on the same teams for years. We've been friends forever, so I was relieved it was him behind me. I kept looking in my mirror and seeing the 44. Jason McCool has done a lot for my racing program.”

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Factory Stock A Main were Jason Turnmire, Jerry Moran, James Bryant, Daniel Seals and Curtis Twardeski. Downey earned $3,000 for his efforts, a nice payday to end the 2021 season. All six divisions featured strong payouts in one of this region's most respected events.

You can replay all of the exciting action of the 26th annual Renegade Race Fuels Texas Grand with a subscription to SpeedPass at RaceOnTexas.com. With over 100 races already streamed Live in 2021, it's the most content available anywhere in the Deep South, Click here to watch now.

Members select a favorite or local track when they sign up, then support that track all season long with half of that payment going directly to that track. For great content from Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, become a member today.

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