Race Recap: Tomlinson, Shepperd, Dabney prevail at HOT

ELM MOTT, Texas (April 19, 2024) — Touring Modified veteran Eric Tomlinson, open-wheel master Jeff Shepperd and stock car phenom Michael Dabney scored feature wins in their respective divisions, as officials hosted the Touring Outlaw Modified Series (TOMS) on Friday at Heart O’ Texas Speedway.

Tomlinson powered to victory in the 25-lap A Main for TOMS warriors; Shepperd outgunned his rivals in IMCA Southern SportMod action; while Dabney prevailed in a talent-filled affair for Factory Stock.

Benji Kirkpatrick (I-Stock, Outlaw Street Stock) and Mason Warren (Jr. Limited) also won feature races on a beautiful night for racing in Central Texas. 

Tomlinson, of Robinson, started second on a 23-car grid, drove to the inside of Troy Taylor coming off Turn 2 to take command with just four laps remaining and hung on to earn top honors. Taylor settled for second, while Sam cox filled out the podium. 

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Rusty Trevathan Jr. and Chris Henigan finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Henigan drove up from the 13th starting position. 

“I thank Troy for running so clean,” Tomlinson said. “He’s one of the best to ever do this; to be able to race with him like that at the very end is pretty exciting. He’s usually good about maintaining his tires, and I think under that red flag his right rear sealed over. 

“I was able to get mine back, and that let me fire off a little quicker on the restart. We struggled early, but the longer we ran, the better we got. I’ll thank my family, friends and sponsors for all they do. It takes a lot of support to be able to do this, and I’m blessed to have some good people behind me.” 

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Touring Outlaw Modified Series A Main were Jacob Pirkle, Kale Westover, Boone Evans, Kevin Green and Kevin Rutherford. Four cautions slowed the pace (laps 4, 7, 17, 17), most for minor incident and one when Max Eddie Thomas flipped his car on the front stretch. 

Tomlinson’s margin of victory over Taylor was a comfortable 1.658 seconds. Trevathan, William Gould, Taylor, Evans and Tomlinson won their respective qualifying Heats earlier in the evening, while Henigan and Max Eddie Thomas won the two B Mains. 

Shepperd, of Waco, started ninth on a 19-car grid, drove to the inside of Cutter Spalding to take command at lap nine and pulled away to earn his third victory of the year. Abilene-based phenom Cutter Spalding finished second, while local favorite Paul White filled out the podium. 

Trevor Cogburn and Jerrett Bransom completed the top five with strong performances. 

“That was crazy,” Shepperd said. “I was ready to go home after the Heat race, honestly. Both sides of my car and the whole deck had to come off. We got ready about two minutes before our feature pulled out onto the track. 

“I can’t thank this group of people behind me enough. There was probably 10 people working to get this car put back together. I sure appreciate every one of them, and all of our great sponsors.” 

Finishing sixth through 10th in the IMCA Southern SportMod feature were Brandon Geurin (who was shooting for his fourth straight win), Garett Rawls, Camo Gaston, Kyle Wilkins and Cory Bassinger. With no cautions to slow his pace, Shepperd was off to the races. He won by a 1.009 second margin. 

Dabney, of Kaufman, started 11th on a 20-car Factory Stock grid, drove to the inside of Rusty Head to take control at lap eight and hung on to earn top honors. Sinton-based racer Cody Leonard claimed the runner-up position, while local strongman Ryan Hopkins filled out the podium. 

Dillon Kidwell put in a solid effort to finish fourth, while Colton Tanner rounded out the top five.

“I can’t thank Jacob (Pirkle) enough, I’ve been leaning on him all night,” Dabney said. “He ran before us in the Modified, I’ve been trying to figure out what this track was like and he told me where it was at. I kept it free enough to where I could rotate the bottom better than most, and it all panned out.” 

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Factory Stock feature were Rusty Head, Andrew Richards, Kevin Smith (who drove up from 20th), Jeff Blackwood and Mike Land. Five cautions slowed the pace (laps 7, 7, 8, 8, 15), all for minor spins. Dabney is tough to beat at Heart O’ Texas once he gets out front. 

This week’s program at HOT drew a whopping 130 entries spread among six divisions. Led by the mighty ground-pounding Outlaw Mods with 36 teams on hand, there was no shortage of talent in Selby Holder’s pit area Friday evening. 

Officials cranked out 19 qualifying Heats and a pair of B Mains for the Outlaw Mods before hosting six exciting features. Even when there is 130 cars, the delays are minimal at Heart O’ Texas. The track lights down in Turns 1 and 2 gave out briefly, yet breakers were flipped and racing resumed quickly. 

You can replay every lap of Friday night’s Touring Outlaw Modified Series program at Heart O’ Texas 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 from several states. 

When you sign up today, you can start enjoying great content while supporting the sport even when you can’t attend in person. 

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer . Photo By Southern Sass Photography