Event Preview: Crate Late Model drivers gear up for Texana

EDNA,Texas (April 11, 2024) — Two kinds of race cars draw out more excitement than most within the Texas oval racing community; Sprint cars, and Late Models. While Sprints are thriving in most areas, an effort to expand Late Model racing throughout the state is starting to gain traction. 

This Friday night, those high-powered Late Models take center stage as the American Crate Late Model Series (ACLMS) Southern Region invades the friendly confines of Texana Raceway Park. Teams will contest a $1,500-to-win A Main to open their brand new season. 

Beau Begnaud is the defending series champion, and says he’s ready to load up for battle once again. 

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“Our team finished last year on a pretty solid note,” Begnaud said. “Besides our normal in-depth tear down and fresh skin, we focused on studying our weak links in 2023 and making a plan to improve them this year. We had a fast car throughout the whole season, consistently in the top five. 

“Yet we still needed just a little more to get ourselves in Victory Lane more often. This weekend, we’re hoping for a smooth first race, and to improve the car throughout the night. The same thing goes for our new season overall; we hope to fire off on all cylinders to start the season and carry that with us.” 

Austin Theiss, of Benham, had a strong 2023 season in Late Model competition, and says he’s ready. 

“We’ve actually already run three events in 2024,” Theiss said. “We went up to Big O back in January, and ended up winning one of the features. We also went to I-37 a few weeks ago, and ended up bending a drive shaft in that one. We were running in third or fourth at the time. 

“We’re hoping to do a little points racing this year with a couple different series. So it’s good to get all of the kinks worked out before we start point racing. We made a lot of changes at the end of last year; we ran a lot of big races and I feel like we made some headway. I think we’ll be good for Friday night.” 

Kody Hardage used to run the old South Texas Late Model Series, but now focuses on his own race car.

“I had a strong second-place finish at Texana last year, and I’m excited to go back,” Hardage said. “We generally run well there; that’s one of the tracks I grew up on. I’m pretty familiar with it, how the dirt transitions there and what to expect overall. 

“I’ll have a lot of friends and family there this weekend, so I’m really looking forward to that. So we finished fifth at I-37 earlier this year, but came away with significant damage to the car. The car was actually good there, it’s been repaired and I feel like we’re in good shape for Texana on Friday night.” 

Texana Raceway Park has been refined and improved big-time since active racer and South Texas businessman Cord Beard purchased the facility a few years ago. For this year, a new tower, front stretch catch fence, nice new restrooms and other amenities await fans as they enjoy the sport in 2024.

Beard, along with track promoter Owen Pittman, have a sense of pride in doing things that enhance the fan experience, while ensuring racers have all they need to put on a show. Hot Laps for Friday night’s season opener for the American Crate Late Model Series/Southern Division get under way at 8 p.m. 

If you can’t make it out to Texana, you can catch every lap Live with a subscription at RaceON.com.  Newly re-branded with a commitment to promote local racing, RaceON (formerly RaceON) has over 400 Live events on tap from tracks in several states. 

When you sign up today, choose your favorite track and start enjoying great content while supporting your local track even when you can’t attend in person.     

By Phil Whipple, RaceON.com Staff Writer