Corpus Christi, TX.,- Friday night saw a full night of exciting action as the 6th Annual South Texas Shootout set part of each field for Saturday night’s pay day. Six drivers in the Limited Modifieds and Pure Stocks and two in the Econo-Mod class had their places set for the fields making up the final night of the show on the ¼ mile, high-banked, dirt oval.
In the Limited Modifieds Steve Whiteaker jr., Cody Smith, Shane Hoefling, Tracy Denby jr., Dustin Butcher and Craig Oakes secured their spot. Others notables still looking for a guaranteed spot were past runner-up Cody Smith, Lawrence Mikulencak, Eddie Martin, Travis Johnson and Dustin Robinson.
Joseph Snow, Marcus Mikulencak, Logan Schunka, Chase Bresee, Mason Casteneda and Jerry Walters qualified in the Pure Stocks with Travis Penny and Nathan Rachui transfering after David Grobe was DQ’d from second.
After the redraws, Denby and Butcher would lead the 26-car Limited Modified field to green, while Bresee and M. Mikulencak headed the 24-car Pure Stock feature.
Saturday nights show was a last chance for every driver to make the show and their opportunity to grab the winners share of each purse. Drivers would have last chance B-mains, taking the top 9 from the Pure Stocks and Limited Modifieds, to the big A-main. The final two spots in the Limited Modifieds were provisionals. One for the South Texas Speedway track champ(if not qualified) and a second auctioned off. Two were auctioned off since track champ, Butcher, was already qualified, adding Chase Gillie and Chuck Perry to the show.
Butcher Beats the Best
It was an emotional Dustin Butcher(Corpus Christi) in Victory lane after holding off his cousin, and two-time South Texas Shootout winner, Steve Whiteaker jr. Butcher was chased throughout the 40-lapper by Whiteaker who gave him a few ‘I’m here’ notices before trying to make a last lap pass for the money. Butcher had been protecting the bottom so Whiteaker jumped up top coming off turn 4 and nearly beat Butcher, who won by a half car length, to line.
After the top 6 redraw Tracy Denby jr. drew the pole for the 26-car Limited Modified feature paying a cool 5K to win. Denby led the pack coming off turn 2 but got in too hard giving Butcher and Whiteaker the opportunity to get by. Butcher led the first circuit chased by Whiteaker, Denby, Craig Oakes and Cody Smith.
Smith quickly got by Oakes for fourth bringing Shane Hoefling along to fifth. Whiteaker had just started taking looks low on Butcher when a multi-car tangle in turns 3-4 brought the action to a halt with a lap 6 caution. Hunter Flanagan got tagged on the restart by Travis Johnson keeping the yellow light lit.
When green waved again, veteran Lawrence Mikulencak began to make his move forward taking fifth from Hoefling, then fourth from Smith the next lap. A six-car tangle in turns 1-2 on lap 9 brought the yellow out once again. On the restart Denby’s car began sparking and smoking from the rear end causing him to slow and pit.
Mikulencak used the opening to reel in Butcher and Whiteaker with the top three now nose to tail on lap 14. As Whiteaker kept the pressure on Butcher, Smith and Oakes were also able to run down the lead trio with the top five now nose to tail at the crossed flags.
Bobby Maupin brought out a yellow on lap 21 when he had trouble in turn 2. The restart saw Johnson go araound on the front stretch while Jeremy Fiscus spun in turn 1. The next restart was clean with Whiteaker now sniffing around for a different line to get past Butcher for the lead.
Whiteaker gave his cousin Butcher some love taps as the top three edged away from Smith, Oakes and Hoefling. Michael Gay and Brian Rye tangled on lap 28 bringing out a caution that also saw Smith pull off from fourth. The restart was again clean with Butcher getting a couple car lengths on Whiteaker, who had Mikulencak looking for the spot.
Whiteaker quickly closed the gap and was taking some serious looks now as laps wound down. With five to go the top five were all within a car length or two of each other. Just as Butcher gained a slight advantage on Whiteaker, yellow waved for a spin on lap 37 by Hector Aguirre in turn 1.
This set up a three lap shootout to the finish. Butcher got away slightly on Whiteaker as green waved, but was back on Butcher’s bumper. As the white flag waved Whiteaker stayed on Butcher’s bumper low in turns 1-2. Going into turn 3 Whiteaker gave it a shot up top.
Coming off turn 4 Whiteaker had a run on the high side as they drag raced to the checkers. At the line it was Butcher, in the Elhard Electric and Air Conditioning, WW Bodies, Churches Chicken, Extreme Race Engines, Hughes by 89 Motorsports Chassis, by only half a car taking the big victory.
“First and foremost, I want to dedicate this win to Jerry Whiteaker,” said Butcher. “He’s like a grandfather to me. He’s in my prayers and this is all for him. Steve pulled up next to me after the race. It was a great family moment. I love him to death and he’s the brains. He’s definitely helped my program.”
“Without a doubt this is the biggest win of my career. Mentally maybe not my biggest win, but paycheck wise, yes. The way the track was rubbering up whomever got out front was going to have to make a mistake for anyone to pass. That initial start for myself and Steve when we both capitalized on Denby overdriving the corner.”
“I knew on that restart with three to go there was going to be some beatin’ and bangin’. Turns 1-2 and were locked down on the bottom so they were going to have to try turns 3-4. I saw Steve’s nose a couple times, but didn’t know he was going to try a run off the high side on the last lap. You can’t make any mistakes with him behind you. One mistake, and you’re gone.”
“I just tried to stay calm, hit my marks and I felt confident if I did that and stayed on the bottom and not get out of the groove that I’d be ok. When any of those guys is behind you, you have to go and not make a mistake. It only takes one to lose what you have.”
“I had a pretty good run there for a while and got into a good rhythm. I wasn’t overusing my tires and that’s a big deal here. I definitely didn’t want to see that late caution. Restarts are so important and easy to make a mistake. I didn’t want to see it, but it worked out for us.”
“I saw him coming on the outside in the final corner. I started trying to make that gap smaller and have him not be comfortable. I thought he’d try it with two to go. The benefit of having him behind me is I know he’s going to race me clean and race me hard, but not spin me coming to the checkers. I guarantee that Steve doesn’t hold back and he doesn’t let anybody win.”
Bresee Blows Through Corpus Two years ago Chase Bresee(Baytown) had to come from his 22nd starting position to pick up the win. Tonight he got to start on the pole for the 30-lap main event. It wasn’t any easier as Bresee had to hold off challenges from Marcus Mikulencak and Joseph Snow early. Then coming to the closing laps EJ Gilpin and Mason Casteneda challenged for the lead at one time going three wide, until caution slowed the pace. After the restart it was Bresee getting a slight margin on Gilpin and carrying it to the checkers.
Bresee jumped into the lead off turn 2 as the 24-car Pure Stock main fired off with M. Mikulencak, Snow, Jerry Walters and Logan Schunka in pursuit. Behind them Curtis King and Casteneda were side by side for sixth when Snow and M. Mikulencak made contact sending M. Mikulencak around and Snow to the tail.
Snow had trouble on the restart with sparks flying from the rear end area and stopped in turn 2. Once back under green, Gilpin got by Schunka for fourth but John Milulencak, Walters, Chris Holly, Shayne Sturtz and Barry Major got piled up for another yellow. On the restart Casteneda got third from Schunka, who fell back giving up spots to King and Gilpin also.
Schunka, Travis Weatherford and King were three wide on lap 4 before Weatherford backed out and found himself now three abreast with Gilpin and Joshua Sewell. By lap 6 Bresee was checking out from M. Mikulencak, King and Casteneda. As Bresee hit traffic on lap 8, M. Mikulencak closed quickly. Bresee, M. Mikulencak and the lapped car of Cheryl Gray were three wide for the lead on lap10.
As the front duo diced in traffic, Casteneda reeled them both in and it wasn’t long until King and Gilpin were on their heels with the top five nose to tail. M. Mikulencak tried the high side around another lapper coming to halfway showing Bresee, Casteneda, M. Mikulencak, King and Gilpin in the top five.
It was the wrong choice as M. Mikulencak fell back to sixth and had to retake fifth from King. Gilpin then pressured Casteneda for second and after several tries finally got by on lap 24. Gilpin then got along side Bresee for the lead using the high side. Casteneda tried to find a hole on the low side and just as they went three wide for the lead, John Ramirez blew up collecting Jamie Dear.
The reduced pace gave everyone a chance to cool their tires which benefited Bresee the most as he got away got away by several car lengths. Bresee held his gap on Gilpin while Dakota Heinaman and Walters slugged it out for fifth. Bresee became a two-timer as he grabbed the checkers in his Longs Tire, Gentry Transmission, Sombreros Restuarant, 3D Deisel Repair, TCC Carburetors, Mud Bugs Crawfish, Ace Auto Sales, CB Racing Engines, HOT Chassis.
“That(finish) right there is why I love coming down to Corpus,” exclaimed Bresee. “That was great racing from my seat, and for the fans in the stands. It was great racing, that’s what I come here to do.”
“I had someone signaling me tell me they were getting closer and closer. Then I felt them bumping. It’s going to get real good, real quick and the fans are going to love it.”
“When lapped traffic came into play I wasn’t sure where to go. They were giving the move over flag, but those guys weren’t going anywhere. I knew there was nothing up top and I couldn’t go there. I had to give a couple of them a little bump to get them up the track.”
Penny Worth a Grand Corpus Christi’s Travis Penny made it a clean sweep for the weekend winning both his heat and qualifier on Friday night. Then he wrapped up the weekend with another wire to wire win worth $1,000 in the Penny Fabrication, Saddler Motorsports, RPM, SBG Racing car.
As the 12-car field took the green, Penny jumped out front followed by Nathan Rachui, who was moved into a qualifying spot after David Grobe was DQ’d in tech. Behind them were James Lee, Ryan Carlucci and Jordan Sandoval. The first of several yellows flew for Carlucci to be checked for leaking fuel. He pitted for repairs but came back down a lap.
Back to green briefly, Rachui and Lee were side by side with Miguel Mendoza getting fourth from Sandoval. As Rachui and Mendoza banged wheels for third Jason Langford and Thomas Rye had trouble in turn 1. On the restart Rachui retook second from Lee. At halfway it was Penny, Rachui, Lee, Mendoza and Sandoval in the top five.
Sam Chapa and Roy Walker went around on lap 10 for another yellow, that saw Lee exchange second with Rachui again. Rachui got turned blocking the track, collecting Sandoval, Chapa and Grobe. The restart had Medoza get by Lee for second before Lee spun in turn 2 with Rye stopping high in turn 2.
Cheyloh Brodnax took a hard hit into the front stretch wall on the ensuing restart, but was alright and continued on. Officials then shortened the race due to time leaving a green, white, checker finish. With Penny and Mendoza getting away, Grobe got third from Sandoval with Lee following. Penny held a slight margin on Mendoza as he crossed the stripe for the win.