Race Recap: Gould, Smith win big on Night 1 of Spring Kickoff

KENNEDALE, Texas (Feb. 23, 2024) — Veteran touring Modified driver William Gould and North Texas open-wheel master Cody Smith both won features in their respective divisions, as James Lopez and his staff hosted Night 1 of the 18th annual Spring Kickoff on Friday at Kennedale Speedway Park. 

Gould powered to victory in the headlining IMCA Modified feature; while Smith doubled up with wins in IMCA Southern SportMod and IMCA Stock Car action. Michael Dabney (Factory Stock); Christian Gaston (Eco Mods); and Kyle Sale (Sport Compacts) were also feature winners on a beautiful evening.

Gould, of Calera, Oklahoma, started on the pole of an 18-car Modified field and led all 20 laps in dominant fashion. Defending points champion Matt Martin drove up from 10th at the start to claim second, while Larry Adams filled out the podium. 

Steve Askew (Valley View) wheeled his way up from 14th to fourth with an impressive drive, while Cameron Wilson (Gainesville) piloted his way through the field from seventeen to finish fifth.


Finishing sixth through 10th in the Mike Frieri Photography IMCA Modified A Main were Gary Ray Spears Jr., Thomas Walp, Jeremy Busby, Sam Spadaro and Bradley Mitchell. Two cautions slowed the pace, both before an official lap was scored. Chase Allen got nailed and rolled over, yet was not hurt. 

Gould took home a nice payday of $1,000 for his efforts. His margin of victory was 12.302 seconds. Gould, Adams and Allen won their respective qualifying Heats earlier in the evening. 

Smith, of Kaufman, started fourth on a 20-car SportMod grid, drove to the inside of Mark Patterson coming off Turn 4 to take command at lap nine and pulled steadily away to earn top honors. Kyle Wilkins crossed the stripe in second, yet was docked two spots for jumping the final restart at lap 17.

Tommy Davis Jr. was credited with second, while 2023 champ Jerrett Bransom filled out the podium. Wilkins (Italy, TX) and Patterson (Merkel) finished fourth and fifth, respectively. 

Finishing sixth through 10th in the C&P Pump Service SportMod A Main were Klayton Reeves, Trevor Cogburn, Shawn Marquez Jr., John Rabozzi (who started way back in 20th) and Ryan Brown. Three cautions slowed the pace (laps 8, 13, 17), one for the flaming No. 04 machine of Cameron Cook. 

Cogburn, Davis and Patterson won their qualifying Heats, while Cook won the 12-lap B Main. 

Smith started on the pole of his IMCA Stock Car feature and never looked back. The Red Flag waved before a single lap was scored when the car of Chad Hertel flipped violently in Turn 3 and landed against the outside retaining wall. Fortunately he was not injured, but the car sustained major damage. 

Brandon McElroy (Fort Worth) crossed the stripe in second, while Gould (doing double duty, hustling between cars) filled out the podium. Jeffrey Abbey drove from 10th to fourth, while GW Egbert IV rounded out the top five. 

Finishing sixth through 10th in the 5H General Contracting IMCA Stock Car A Main were Jerrett Bransom, Damon Hammond, Lance Hanson Jr., Matt Guillaume and Jack Bransom. Only the wild incident with Hertel slowed the pace; once they took the green flag again, they ran wire-to-wire.  

Hertel, Gould and McElroy won their respective Heats, while Jerrett Bransom won the B Main. Smith’s margin of victory was a sizable 2.602 seconds, as he was hooked-up and dialed-in for Opening Night. Smith was named Texas Short Track Driver-of-the-Year in 2023, with 35 feature wins to his credit. 

The 18th annual Spring Kickoff drew an impressive 113 entries spread among six divisions. Officials cranked out 15 Heats and a pair of B Mains with little delay, took a short intermission, then ran off six entertaining features. They’ll all go at it again tonight for Night 2 with a full program for all divisions. 

You can replay every lap of Friday night’s Spring Kickoff action at Kennedale Speedway Park with a subscription at Newly re-branded with a commitment to promote local racing, RaceON (formerly known as RaceON) has over 400 events on tap in 2024 from tracks in several states. 

When you sign up for a membership today, choose your favorite (or hometown) track and start enjoying great content while supporting your local track even when you can’t attend in person.  

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer. Photo by: Mike Frieri