Race Recap: Stevens, Wilkey, Maple notch wins at Batesville

LOCUST GROVE, Arkansas (May 10, 2024) — Touring Super Late Model star Tyler Stevens; open-wheel sensation Ashton Wilkey; and local stalwart Cody Maple all won feature races in their respective divisions, as officials hosted Night 1 of the Bad Boy 98 on Friday at Batesville Motor Speedway. 

Stevens powered to the victory in the headlining Comp Cams Super Dirt Series (CCSDS) A Main; Wilkey prevailed in a talent-filled affair for IMCA Modifieds; while Maple was triumphant in a hotly-contested tilt for the Midwest Modifieds. 

Conner Kuykendall (Arkansas Factory Stocks); Hayden Linn (IMCA Stock Cars); and Cody Cornett (Hobby Stocks) were also feature winners on a beautiful night for racing at the track where fans gather to hear “Thunder in the Grove.”

Stevens, of Searcy, Arkansas, started on the pole of a 24-car grid, drove to the inside of Scott Crigler coming off Turn 2 to take command at lap 22 and pulled steadily away to earn top honors. Stormy Scott crossed the stripe in second, while Payton Freeman filled out the podium. 

Hall of Famer Billy Moyer Sr. claimed fourth, while ‘Flyin’ Brian Rickman completed the top five. 

“It got a little hectic there for a minute,” Stevens told series announcer Wesley Gwaltney in Victory Lane as he collected $5,000 for his efforts to become the first repeat winner of 2024. “Turns 1 and 2 had a little character, as they normally do. We had to kind of pick and choose as we worked traffic.

“We caught a couple of them that were pushing, and I was trying to be patient. I knew tires would start to be a factor as the laps progressed. I don’t know for sure what happened to Scott (Crigler), but he had that left rear go down, and I’d be willing to bet he chose a soft compound.” 

From there on out, it was about doing his job as the skilled pilot he is to seal the deal. 

“I knew if I hit my marks and did my job in the seat, it would pay off,” Stevens added. “All night, right from the start, this car was really, really good. I had a lot of help this week in getting back on track, so hopefully this will be another good weekend for us.” 

Scott, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was pleased with his night on the high-banked oval. 

“I just needed longer runs if I was going to have anything at all for Tyler,” he said. “He was pretty good, so it was going to be tough. Maybe in lapped traffic we could have closed in, but congratulations to those guys. I’m real happy for my team, this is the first time we’ve raced in a month.” 

Freeman put in a strong performance all night, never losing sight of the leaders in a fast-paced feature.

“I was just trying to keep it clean and avoid that trouble so late in the race,” he explained. “I felt like we had done a good job of saving our tires, but once the track rubbered up it was hard to get by without just plain running over somebody. We did most of our passing early, and it all worked out for us.” 

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Comp Cams Super Dirt Series A Main were Kyle Beard, Morgan Bagley, Shane Hebert, Trey Mills and Jarret Stuckey. Four cautions slowed the pace (lap 1, 22, 24, 24), all for minor incidents. Stevens’ margin of victory over Scott was a comfortable 1.159 seconds. 

Wilkey, of Batesville, started second on a 20-car grid and led all 15 laps of his feature. Brandon Smith claimed the runner-up position, while Wendell Wallace filled out the podium. Adam Maple (Batesville) and Peyton Taylor (Batesville)  rounded out the top five. 

Finishing sixth through 10th in the IMCA Modified feature were Spencer Hartwick, Brad Calhoun, Keith Brown Jr., Travis Mosley and Shane Harris. With no caution to slow the pace, all for quick spins. Wilkey’s margin of victory over Smith was a scant .977 of a second. 

Maple, of Batesville, started third on a 12-car grid, drove to the inside of pole-sitter Conner Wheeler to take command at lap one and hung on to earn top honors. Keaton Wheeler crossed the stripe in second, while Adam Poe filled out the podium with a strong performance. 

Conner Wheeler (Sulphur Rock) and Jim Vincent (West Plains, MO) completed the top five. 

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Midwest Modified feature were Blake Burns, Tommy Porter, Colton Abshere, Corey Martone and Wayne Poe. One caution slowed the pace for a quick spin by Scott Rentfro. Maple’s margin of victory over Wheeler was just .971 of a second, as competition was intense. 

Night 1 of the Bad Boy 98 at the famed Batesville Motor Speedway drew a respectable 104 entries spread across six divisions. Led by the impressive Comp Cams Super Late Models with 41 teams on hand, there was no shortage of talent in the pit area on Friday evening. 

Bad Boy 98 weekend continues tonight, highlighted by a $12,000-to-win 68-lap A Main for Comp Cams series teams. Texas veteran Morgan Bagley sits just two points ahead of Logan Martin in the overall standings, with Kyle Beard, BJ Robinson and Jon Mitchell holding down positions three through five.   

You can replay every lap of Friday night’s Comp Cams Super Dirt Series program at Batesville Motor Speedway with a Membership at Newly re-branded with a commitment to promote local racing, RaceON (formerly RaceON) has over 400 Live events on tap in 2024. 

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By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer. Photo by: Chaz Brzeski