Race Recap: Clement, Keel, Hicks win at Rocket Raceway

PARIS, Texas (June 8, 2024) — North Texas oval stalwart Mitchell Clement; open-wheel pilot Colton Keel and Stock car veteran Marty Hicks all earned feature wins in their respective divisions, as Kevin Sustaire and his staff hosted a full card of racing on Saturday night at Rocket Raceway Park. 

Clement powered to victory in the second of two $1,200-to-win 20-lap tilts for USRA Modifieds; Keel prevailed in a talent-filled affair for USRA Limited Modifieds; while Hicks earned his first Factory Stock victory since 2022. 

Shelby Williams (USRA Stock Cars); Shawn Williams (Eco Mods); and Kason Capps (Jr. Limiteds) were also feature winners on a beautiful (and busy) night for short track racing in North Texas. Jason Webb won the make-up Modified feature from May 11 over Matthew Day and Shane Hartline.  

In the second Modified feature, Clement, of Bonham, started second on a 26-car grid, drove past Colby Smith to take command at lap 12 and pulled steadily away to earn top honors. Bo Day crossed the stripe in second, while Smith filled out the podium. 

Paul White and Colby O’Neal finished fourth and fifth, respectively. 

“Man, I’m wore out after that one,” Clement said in Jay Hodge Dodge Victory Lane. “I have to thank Kevin for putting this together with such a great track, especially considering all of the rain we’ve had in the past month. I also want to thank my car owner, Victor Keeling; and all of our great sponsors.” 

Finishing sixth through 10th in the second USRA Modified feature of the night were Jason Langford, Wesley Veal, Ryan Veal, Jason Webb and Jimmie Williams. Five cautions slowed the pace (laps 5, 5, 12, 12, 13), all for minor incidents. Clement’s margin of victory over Day was just .932 of a second. 

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Both Webb and Clement took home a cool $1,200 for their efforts on Saturday evening. 

Keel, of Anna, Texas, started on the pole of a 24-car grid, inherited the lead when Derek Watson got together with a lapped car, and hung on to earn top honors. Recent winner Matthew Riskey crossed the stripe in second, while Bailey Dosser filled out the podium with a solid performance. 

Mason Day (Farmersville) and Tim Clonch (Quinlan) completed the top five. 

“We kind of switched over to the B-Mod this year,” Keel said. “We ran the Eco Mod last year as a Northern SportMod; so we switched over, and there’s only so many B-Mod tracks. This is a great facility, the track surface is always top-notch, and they run a quick show. It’s hard not to come back.”  

Finishing sixth through 10th in the USRA Limited Modified A Main were Joe Findling (a man with PBA Tour-level bowling skills); ageless veteran Skeet Amason, Nick Lent, Brian Hopkins and Austin Brownlee. Three cautions slowed the pace (laps 11, 14, 18), none for serious incident. 

Keel’s margin of victory over Riskey was a mere .659 of a second, as Mr. Riskey was on the charge. 

Hicks, of Powderly, started fourth on a 20-car Factory Stock grid, drove to the inside of Kody Boatright to take control with just three laps remaining and hung on to claim the victory. Deaon Redmon settled for the runner-up position, while red-hot Brandon Bettis filled out the podium in his potent No. 95 ride. 

Local favorite Daylon Briscoe (Paris) and Jr. McCall (Crandall) rounded out the top five. 

“It feels pretty good to be back here,” Hicks said in Victory Lane. “Racing three-wide there with Brandon Bettis and Mr. Boatright was pretty wild. I know rubbing is racing, I had some contact there and was able to keep it straight. I’m glad I got me a victory. I think I finally got this thing lined out.”  

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Factory Stock feature were Boatright, local powerhouse Michael Smith, Michael Bowles, Billy White and James Proctor. Three cautions slowed the pace (laps 2, 11, 18), all for minor spins. Hicks got into Boatright to bring out the second one, and was less than pleased.

Hicks’ margin of victory over Redmon was a mere .681 of a second, as competition was pretty intense. 

This week’s high-stakes Modified Twin-bill drew an impressive 117 entries spread among six classes. Led by the mighty Mods and Limited Mods with 26 apiece, there was talent galore in Sustaire’s pit area on Saturday evening. In fact, every division on hand featured some of the state’s best drivers. 

Officials knocked out 15 qualifying Heats in short order, then took an extended intermission that was more than worth the delay. A Meet N’ Greet session allowed fans to mingle with drivers down on the track, and it went over very well. When that was finished, a special unveiling took place. 

Longtime short track promoter Kevin Rogers took the Mic to explain to fans on hand (and those watching Live on RaceON.com) the newly-announced Texas Short Track Hall of Fame. He and Sustaire unveiled a sign featuring the entity’s logo, with former racer Marc Madison on hand to assist. 

Madison had his beautiful vintage race car at Rocket all evening and is an avid racing historian. He is the ideal Ambassador for the new Hall of Fame and will play a role in its future activities. This new entity will honor the drivers, car owners and promoters who laid for foundation for our great sport. 

You can replay every lap of Saturday nights $1,200-to-Win Modified program from Rocket Raceway Park with a Membership at RaceON.com. 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. 

By Phil Whipple, RaceON.com Staff Writer