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Kevin Sitton wins Southern Texas Late Model Series race at I-37 Speedway

by Jay Hallas | Posted on Sunday, September 24th, 2017

By JM Hallas

PLEASANTON, Texas – As the 2017 race season winds down I-37 Speedway hosted the Southern Texas Late Model Series in competition on the ¼ mile, semi-banked, clay oval just south of Pleasanton. Only two races remain in the STLMS season with the finale held next month at Gator Motorplex in Willis.

Coming into the night’s action GW Egbert has a slim seven point margin over Brandon Brzozowski with Jim Moon a little over 100 behind. Sloppy Hogg and Robert Scrivner round out the top five, but both are over 350 points away from the top of the board.

Three more races remain in the I-37 Speedway regular season after tonight. The season ends in October, then is capped off by the Big Buck Shootout in November (3rd-4th), a two-day show. A special night of destruction brings the curtain down for the year with a Demo Derby, Trailer Races and Monster Truck rides.

In the Modified points its Talon Minten leading the way, but by only 20 markers over Jason Borlace. Cody Leonard, Jeremy Davenport and Greg Dinsmore complete the top five. T. Minten, doing double duty also heads the Sport Modified division with Johnny Torres 17 back. Robby Minten, Cody Leonard and Broc Bowen follow in third through fifth.

The Limited Late Model points race is close among the top three drivers. Frank Okruhlik is on top of the standings with Jason Kelly only 11 behind and Howie Marcx 19 out of the lead. Multi-time track champ Trey Votion is fourth after missing two show trailed by Aaron Leddy in fifth.

Another multiple track champ, Wade Jones has a good lead over the second place battle that shows Shawn Moore and Cody Leonard only separated by three markers. It’s the “Dakota” show in Pure Stocks with Dakota Heinaman leading Dakota Hurley by 18 with William Saunders a distant third.

In the Sport Compact it’s been the Robert Kelm show lately. Kelm has clicked off 8 races in a row and beating back all the bounty hunters along the way. Kelm, with a $250 bounty on his head, has over a 40-point margin on the tight battle for second between Jamie Garner, GB Carter and Gordon Dowdy who come in separated by six points.

Southern Texas Late Model Series winner Kevin Sitton. Photo by JM Hallas


Sitton Sweeps STLMS Show

Baytown’s Kevin Sitton swept the inaugural STLMS visit to I-37 Speedway taking both the heat and feature races. Sitton, who started on the front row of the 30-lapper, got the lead early and was out front of a major lap 6 crash that brought out the red flag. Once back to racing Sitton pulled out to a full straightaway lead until a late caution rebunched the field. Sitton inched away from the second place battle to secure the victory and the $1,100 payday.

After a four-wide salute to the fans the 16-car STLMS field roared to life with Sitton beating Cody Leonard off turn 2 for the lead. Leonard fell in line second with Austin Thiess, Colton Horner and Brandon Brzozowski in pursuit. Ricky Begnaud got by Brzozowski for fifth while Thiess began pressuring Leonard for second.

The red waved on lap 6 after R. Begnaud and Brzozowski made contact on the front straight and turned sideways in front of the field. The back half of the field stacked up with Jose Moran going airborne over someone’s nose. Seven cars suffered some body damage, but Brzozowski and Moran were unable to continue.

On the restart Thiess snuck past Leonard for second, but Jared Stepanski slammed the front straight wall for a lap 8 caution. As green waved again Sitton began easing away from Thiess with Leonard, Horner and GW Egbert in the top five at halfway.

Sitton, now in slower traffic, was picking his way through while R. Begnaud, who had to go to the tail, made his way to sixth passing Nate Jantz on lap 21. By lap 25 Sitton had not only cleared traffic, but increased his lead to a full straightaway, as Leonard and Thiess were battling between themselves and lapped cars for second.

Mark Shipman went around in turn 4 almost collecting that second place battle, bringing out a yellow and erasing Sitton’s big lead. Sitton got a good jump on green leaving Leonard and Thiess to fight for the runner-up spot. At the checkers it was Sitton in the Eric Neal owned, Mirage Construction, Trick Shocks & Suspension, Phoenix Erectors, QA1, AFCO, Ohlin Shocks, Hendren crate powered, MasterSbilt Gen-X Chassis by several car lengths.

“It took some friends, some help and some loaned parts,” exclaimed Sitton. “We broke a drive shaft in hot laps. Thanks to David (Horner) and his crew for loaning us the parts. We barely got it put together for the heat race. We showed up Friday night and worked on the car. Had it set up pretty close to what we thought it needed to be. The track came to us and it worked out good.”

“Anytime you see two to go, and caution comes out, you think you’re going to get passed on the last lap or end up losing it because of a caution. We made some good laps and held on for the win.”

“When you’re leading the whole way you worry about someone finding a better line. Especially on this track. You have to free your car up so much to get around. You don’t know if while you’re spinning your tires that they’re getting off the corner better. The track is so good and so wide that you can run the top, bottom, middle. It’s hard to know exactly where to run.”

“We had a good time. I was impressed with the race track. When its slick like it was, you can move around.”

Southern Texas Late Model Series

97 Kevin Sitton, 12xxx Cody Leonard, 7d Austin Thiess, 132 Ricky Begnaud,

56jr Colton Horner, 717 GW Egbert IV, 99 Nate Jantz, 18 Michael Wagner, 57 Mark Shipman, 214 Mike Fenton, 12 Kody Hardage, 78 Eddy Hardage, 82 Jared Stepanski, 104 Brandon Brzozowski, 33jr Jose Moran, 32 Beau Begnaud

Southern Texas Late Model Series heats

Heat 1; 112xxx Cody Leonard, 56jr Colton Horner, 132 Ricky Begnaud, 99 Nate Jantz, 214 Mike Fenton, 12 Kody Hardage, 33jr Jose Moran, 18 Michael Wagner

Heat 2; 97 Kevin Sitton, 7d Austin Thiess, 104 Brandon Brzozowski, 717 GW Egbert IV, 32 Beau Begnaud, 57 Mark Shipman, 78 Eddy Hardage, 82 Jared Stepanski

Modified winner Talon Minten. Photo by JM Hallas


Minten Motors to Modified Main

In a short, but stout field, Talon Minten (Seguin) made his way to the front taking the lead at halfway. From there Minten built a margin over Cody Leonard that he was able to hang on to for the win in the 3-D Landscaping, Doyon Motorsports, All In Designs, Swenson Racing Products, Alamo Hot Rod Parts, Rising Star Racing Bodies, LaCoste Meat Market, Sundowner Truck Repair, Friesen crate powered, Hughes chassis.

At the start Jamie Campbell jumped out front chased by Mike Morris, Jason Borlace, Minten and Leonard. After Morris slipped high Borlace and Minten picked up second and third. Minten took second followed by Leonard to third as they came to halfway

Minten got the lead from Campbell leaving him wheel to wheel with Leonard. This gave Minten the chance to build a lead as Leonard finally got the spot. In the final laps Leonard tried to close the gap, but came up short as Minten was able to stay out front for the win.

“I didn’t really have a plan to get to the front,” commented T. Minten. “I just tried to keep my nose clean and get there as quick as I could. I knew Cody (Leonard) would be coming.”

“I was just able to get through the traffic quicker than he did. I got out front and got to the top which was the preferred line. I could use the bottom getting through traffic, but once out front I went to the top. It was the best line.”

“It’s been a while since I was able to get a win. I’ve been having some fuel problems. We found some foam in the pick-up tube. I went to Greg (Dinsmore) to pick up a fuel pump and that’s what he told me to look for. We changed it out and used some whiffle balls instead. It was good in practice last night.”


14t Talon Minten, 12 Cody Leonard, 29 Jamie Campbell, 125 Jason Borlace, 86 Dillon Tindal, 55 Mike Morris

Modified heat

Heat 1; 12 Cody Leonard, 14t Talon Minten, 29 Jamie Campbell, 86 Dillon Tindal, 125 Jason Borlace, 55 Mike Morris

Sport Modified winner Cody Leonard. Photo by JM Hallas


Leonard Leads Battle of Two Codys

Cody Leonard and Cody Beddoe, both from Corpus Christi, put on a great battle for the lead of the 20-lap Sport Modified feature exchanging the spot. Leonard in the CD Electric,, All In Designs, Ace Transmission, Flanagan’s Muffler Shop, Coastal Diesel, K&R, Wells Racing Engines powered Express Chassis finally got away while Beddoe and Brandon Blaylock battled for second in the waning circuits.

After the initial start saw Robby Minten spin, the second saw the two Codys stay wheel to wheel for the lead with Leonard leading lap 1. Beddoe, Blaylock, Edward Oakes and Hunter Flanagan held the top five spots. Beddoe got the nose out front on lap 5 while Flanagan and JJ Jennings got by Oakes for fourth and fifth.

Leonard came back to regain the top spot on lap 7 with the duo still tied at the rub rails. At halfway it was Leonard, Beddoe, Blaylock, Flanagan and Jennings in the top five. Max Calles brought out a lap 11 caution for a spin in turn 2. Back under green Blaylock, on the top, got the jump on Beddoe for second and gave Leonard a brief look for the lead.

Jennings was able to get past Flanagan for fourth leaving him alongside Johnny Torres for fifth. Beddoe closed back in on Blaylock and as they ran side by side, Leonard got away. With five to go Blaylock and Beddoe were still fighting giving Leonard more distance. As the white flag waved Leonard had built a good lead and cruised to the checkers.

“Whenever I’m working through traffic it makes it easier for me to find my good line,” said Leonard. “(Cody) Beddoe put up a real good fight for the lead. Finally I was able to edge him off and after that caution I was able to get out front, hug the bottom and pull away a little bit. Kudos to him for putting up a good fight.”

“When the track dries out I know the asphalt drivers have a tendency to get quicker. They drive the car straighter, and you want to keep the car as straight as possible and hammer down, but not blow the tires off. When it’s a drivers track the asphalt guys seem to do better.”

Sport Modifieds

12 Cody Leonard, 9b Brandon Blaylock, 77 Cody Beddoe, 26g JJ Jennings, 58c Hunter Flanagan, 66 Johnny Torres, 9t Talon Minten, 99 Edward Oakes, 6 Vince Louden, 48 Chris Swenson, 23 Joel Garcia, 31 Chase Havely, 11t Tom Grothues, 5r Robby Minten, 7 Bruce Hinson, 79 David Meredith, 15 Bruce Beddoe, 18 Larry Jernigan, 48m Max Calles, 25t Michael Keylich, 24 Jim Blevins, 31L Sherrill Lewis—dns

Sport Modified heats

Heat 1; 77 Cody Beddoe, 99 Edward Oakes, 26g JJ Jennings, 5r Robby Minten, 24 Jim Blevins, 48 Chris Swenson, 31L Sherrill Lewis

Heat 2; 12 Cody Leonard, 58c Hunter Flanagan, 31 Chase Havely, 11t Tom Grothues, 7 Bruce Hinson, 48m Max Calles, 18 Larry Jernigan, 79 David Meredith

Heat 3; 9b Brandon Blaylock, 6 Vince Louden, 9t Talon Minten, 66 Johnny Torres, 23 Joel Garcia, 15 Bruce Beddoe, 25 Michael Keylich

Street Stock winner Cody Leonard. Photo by JM Hallas


Leonard Wires Street Stock Scramble

In a race that was dotted by early cautions, and cut short by time limits, Cody Leonard got another win for the night in the Street Stocks. Leonard led all ten laps of the scheduled 20-lapper to grab the victory in the Jamie Fuller owned, Reflective Wrecker Service, C3 Speed Horses, CNC Signs and Graphics, Spreen Race Engines, Chevelle.

As the 16-car Street Stock field took the green it was Leonard getting the point trailed by Jason Fitch, Chris Swenson, Chris Shafer and Michale Pesek. On lap 2 Dennis Hilla got sideways and tagged by Abraham Mares and Shawn Moore, ending Mares’ night.

After a couple cautions for separate spins, points leader Wade Jones slapped the front stretch wall while battling three wide with Pesek and Shafer. After another lap of green flag racing the yellow waved again for Hilla and Moore. Officials cut the race to ten laps and Leonard was able to ease away from the field for the victory.

“Even after I saw Wade (Jones) in the fence I didn’t relax that much,” added Leonard. “(Chris) Swenson is always fast here and you know he will be coming. He’s fast in about everything he jumps in. I knew he was back there, but not how far. I had people trying to show me, but I was too focused on what was in front of me and hitting my marks.”

“I was concerned on whether the top side was coming in while I was out front. I know Swenson likes it up there and he will venture around. He’ll go anywhere to try to catch you. I was waiting for someone to pop up on the high side. It can be a little nerve wracking.”

Street Stocks

7 Cody Leonard, 48 Chris Swenson, 23f Jason Fitch, 77 Chris Shafer, 94 Allen Torres, 22 Michale Pesek (-2 jump start), 99 Wayne Wernette, 5 Brad Hayes, 20 Mike Lyon, 69b Jeffrey Bohro, 2x Dennis Hilla, 18 Shawn Moore, 41 Wade Jones, 3 Abraham Mares, 8 Jacob Crow, 22m Anthony Gordon (BF—speeding in pits)

Street Stock heats

Heat 1; 7 Cody Leonard, 48 Chris Swenson, 94 Allen Torres, 8 Jacob Crow, 22 Anthony Gordon

Heat 2; 23f Jason Fitch, 22 Michale Pesek, 41 Wade Jones, 18 Shawn Moore, 99 Wayne Wernette

Heat 3; 77 Chris Shafer, 5 Brad Hayes, 69b Jeffrey Bohro, 2x Dennis Hilla, 20 Mike Lyon

Pure Stock winner Mason Casteneda. Photo by JM Hallas


Casteneda Cashes In with Pure Payday

In a heavy loaded field of Pure Stocks it was Mason Casteneda(Corpus Christi) going home with hard earned win and the added money in the 20-lap feature. After a good side by side battle for second with shop mate Dakota Heinaman, Casteneda, using the high side was able to get by leader Aaron Leddy in the waning laps for the top spot. Casteneda then eased away while Leddy and Heinaman scrapped it out for second.

As the 22-car field took the green Heinaman and Leddy stayed door to door with Casteneda side by side with Joseph Snow for third. Heinaman got the spot on lap 1 with Leddy, Snow, Casteneda and Johnny Westfall in the top five. Casteneda picked off third from Snow on lap 1 while Leddy began looking outside Heinaman for the lead.

Leddy got the bumper out front on lap 4 as they stayed side by side. In the pack it was Clint Montaino, Daniel Preston and Ryan Carlucci three wide for seventh. It was three wide, two rows deep a lap later as the mid-pack slugfest continued while Joshua Sewell got by Westfall for fifth.

Casteneda had just gotten alongside Heinaman for second when Dillon Gaither broke and stopped in turn 3 for a caution. On the restart coming to halfway it was Leddy, with Casteneda looking high, Heinaman, Snow and Sewell in the top five. Points contender Dakota Hurley had his first of two spins for a caution.

On the restart Casteneda went back to work on Leddy still using the top groove. In the pack it was still three abreast battling this time with Kevin Sullivan, Sterling Tausch and William Saunders for tenth. After another Hurley spin, Casteneda gave Leddy his biggest challenge, while Heinaman was looking for a way by on the bottom.

Casteneda was finally able to sail around Leddy on the top for the lead on lap 14 leaving Leddy side by side with Heinaman for second. As Casteneda inched away Heinaman was able to get by Leddy for second. By now Casteneda was on his way in the Ace Transmission, Pro Line Fabrications, Allison Trans Tech, Sames Ford, raceontexas, Robby Opiela, Southern Tire Mart, Ace Automotive powered, Chevy to the victory.

“I just had to be patient,” said Casteneda. “I used the high side and waited for my chance. With 34 cars here tonight it’s some of the best in south Texas. It’s an accomplishment to win tonight.”

“It’s fun racing Dakota (Heinaman). We work out of the same shop. We use the same stuff and are basically team mates. He races me clean all the time.”

Pure Stocks

28m Mason Casteneda, 441 Dakota Heinaman, 93 Aaron Leddy, 01 Joseph Snow, 38x Joshua Sewell, 4j Curtis King, 9 Johnny Wesatfall, 6 Daniel Preston, 34 Ryan Carlucci, 9c Caitlin Leonard, 54 Kevin Sullivan, 98 William Saunders, 95 Sterling Tausch, 09 Clint Montaino, 15d Jamie Dear, 87 Ben Mikulencak, 66 Adam Torres, 8m Joshua McCain (-2 jump start), 58 Cheyloh Brodnax, 40 Dakota Hurley, 5 Dillon Gaither, 23 Andy Kirkland

Pure Stock B-main (top 10 to A-main)

40 Dakota Hurley, 4j Curtis King, 5 Dillon Gaither, 98 Williams Saunders, 66 Adam Torres, 54 Kevin Sullivan, 23 Andy Kirkland, 15d Jamie Dear, 58 Cheyloh Brodnax, 87 Ben Mikulencak, 19 Mike Horelka, 48 Jimmy Carroll, 73 John Ramirez, 56 Bob Caulfield, 15 William Cavender, 53 Treyler Caulfield, 28 Jeremy Trimble, 13j Justin Randol, 68d Kenneth Wright, 18 Emet Sevilla

Pure Stock heats (top 3 to A-main)

Heat 1; 441 Dakota Heinaman, 9 Johnny Westfall, 95 Sterling Tausch, 5 Dillon Gaither, 15 William Cavender, 56 Bob Caulfield, 28 Jeremy Trimble, 23 Andy Kirkland

Heat 2; 93 Aaron Leddy, 09 Clint Montaino, 8m Joshua McCain, 40 Dakota Hurley, 66 Adam Torres, 68d Kenneth Wright, 73 John Ramirez, 13j Justin Randol

Heat 3; 01 Joseph Snow, 38x Josh Sewell, 34 Ryan Carlucci, 98 William Saunders, 18 Emet Sevilla, 48 Jimmy Carroll, 53 Treyler Caulfield, 3 Abraham Mares (dq)

Heat 4; 28m Mason Casteneda, 6 Daniel Preston, 9c Caitlin Leonard, 4j Curtis King, 54 Kevin Sullivan, 19 Mike Horelka, 87 Ben Mikulencak, 15d Jamie Dear

Sport Compact winner GB Carter. Photo by JM Hallas


Carter Claims Win and Bounty

GB Carter (Harlingen) finally put an end to Robert Kelm’s eight-race win streak collecting the win and bounty money. The veteran Carter got out front on the start with Kelm on his tail. The two had a spirited battle going until Carter was able to get a slight margin after a restart. Kelm tried his best to reel Carter in, but it was Carter in the Don Wilde/Racecraft, VW Rabbit holding on for the victory

As the 14-car Sport Compact field took the green Carter jumped out front with Kelm, Jamie Garner, Gordon Dowdy and Kirk Ball in pursuit. Kelm put early pressure on Carter trying to get a run low off the corners, but Carter would close the door. At one point the lead duo went three wide splitting a lapped car. A lap 13 caution for debris gave everyone a chance to catch their breath.

On the restart Garner and Kelm were side by side but Caleb Dowdy got hung up on an infield tire. The next start saw Garner get the jump on Kelm, but Kelm fought back for the spot. With two to go Carter had about five car lengths on Kelm who could get in deeper, but loose that ground coming off. That was as close as Kelm could get as Carter snagged the win.

“I just got lucky,” said Carter. “The trick tonight to get in front of the 8 car (Kelm), take his line away and keep it there. If I had messed up a little bit, he would have gotten by me. It was fun tonight and it worked out. Luck has a lot to do with it. I know he wasn’t feeling good tonight and being sick in a racecar takes away from what you’re doing.”

“Every win is always special, no matter how many I have. After eight losses in a row out here, this was a big deal for me. I don’t think I’ve ever lost that many in a row. Tonight was special, it really was special.”

“This track is unique from all the other tracks I’ve run. This is a challenging race track. You really have to know to read tracks to get a car set up for this track. It’s taken me forever to figure out what will work and what won’t. I have a long list of what won’t. I won’t use that book anymore.”

Sport Compacts

77 GB Carter, 8 Robert Kelm, 3 Jamie Garner, 57 Trevor Bettis, 63 Gordon Dowdy, 38 Kirk Ball, 12 Roy Easler, 114 Kasey Krauss, 13m Jeremy Watson, 53 Caleb Dowdy, 69 Felipe Ruiz, 56 Justin Todd, 25 Robert Fox, 33 Lizzy Blackstock

Sport Compact heats

Heat 1; 77 GB Carter, 8 Robert Kelm, 63 Gordon Dowdy, 12 Roy Easler, 13m Jeremy Watson, 53 Caleb Dowdy, 57 Trevor Bettis

Heat 2; 3 Jamie Garner, 38 Kirk Ball, 114 Kasey Krauss, 25 Robert Fox, 56 Justin Todd, 69 Felipe Ruiz, 33 Lizzy Blackstock


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