Preview: Drivers gearing up for opener at Cotton Bowl

PAIGE, Texas (March 28, 2024) — It’s one of the premier oval track facilities in the state, and officials are about to swing open the gates for a brand new season. After a successful weekend featuring the World of Outlaw Sprint cars, Cotton Bowl Speedway opens its regular season this Saturday night. 

MAN Racing Promotions, headed by longtime and respected promoter Mary Ann Naumann, will kick off their championship season with a full card, including IMCA SportMods, IMCA Stock Cars, Factory Stocks, Street Stocks, Sport Compacts, and special guests, the Texas Dirt Truck Series.  

Drivers across central Texas are gearing up for Saturday, with some having more work than others to be ready. Factory Stock racer Steve Sims sustained major damage to his No. 58 car just two weeks ago.   

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“We got caught up in a pretty bad wreck on the Friday night of World of Outlaw weekend,” Sims said on Wednesday evening. “The car of Daniel Gaudette was flipping after getting pinched. I barely got my foot off the gas pedal when I hit him at full speed. His car was almost right in my lap. 

“Just about every panel on the car had damage, even the halo was bent down. My chassis guy had the car for a whole week; so all I could do in that time was round up parts, get sheet metal recut and rebent, then take it to San Antonio to have it wrapped. I was lucky to get my chassis in so quickly.”  

As you can imagine, they’ve been in thrash mode since the big wreck, but Sims remained undaunted. 

“We’re getting close, we’re doing some other things that needed attention, as well,” he added. “We’re trying a few things to improve our package overall. We never quit trying, since we know that’s what it takes to win. We’ll have the car ready by Friday, and I’m confident it will perform well this weekend.” 

Heath Stewart is the defending champion in IMCA SportMods at Cotton Bowl and is ready for battle. 

“I think we’re ready and good-to-go for this weekend,” Stewart said. “We did a basic go-through and refurb on the car over the winter, but nothing too drastic. We changed some things on the setup, stuff we were wanting to try and get better. There’s not a lot of time to experiment during the points chase.

“We raced when the World of Outlaws were in town, but weren’t as good as we wanted to be. We were tying some different gears, and now we know it they weren’t right for our car. I will be making some tweaks on it for this weekend, and I’m confident we’ll make it competitive shortly. I’m excited to go.”

Treyler Caulfield is a regular on the Texas Dirt Truck Series and is preparing his machine for Saturday. 

“I think I’m twice as excited as anybody else as we start a new season,” Caulfield said. “Our year got cut short in 2023 when we blew the engine. For this season, we have a fresh Crate motor that we’ll put under its first load on Saturday night. We just didn’t have a chance to go testing before the opener.  

“I’m not too worried about its maiden voyage, if I get through Hot Laps with no issues I can get the truck ready for our Heat race. We led a lot of laps last year and were running strong before we lost that powerplant. The last time I ran the truck was at Cotton Bowl, and was in second when the motor blew.”

Caulfield, owner of TLC Graphics, has the definition of a family-based race team in his corner. He enjoys every minute of it, and says one key member of the team now plays a slightly different role.

“My Dad had a Stroke about a year and a half ago. He’s not the same person anymore, but he still remembers a bunch of people and still loves racing. We’re still going out to the track together; he should be in the stands on Saturday to watch. He’s just not as involved with it as he used to be.” 

In 2023, Cotton Bowl Speedway champions (along with Stewart) included Chris Morris (IMCA Modified); A.J. Dancer (IMCA Stock Cars); Brandon Spreen (Street Stocks); Tim Homeyer (Factory Stocks); and John DeWitt (Sport Compact). Earning a points title in any division at CBS is a major accomplishment.

If you can’t be there in person, you can watch every lap of the action in Saturday night’s season opener at Cotton Bowl Speedway with a subscription at With over 450 races on the Live stream schedule in 2024, it’s home to an  incredible variety of short track content.

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Anchored by the high-profile Comp Cams Super Dirt Series, has grown from a small Texas-based company into a powerhouse regional multi-media entity. With revenue sharing, half of your monthly payment goes to your home track. It’s our mission to support and promote auto racing. 

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer