Race Recap: Rude, Mills, Kowalik earn wins at Cotton Bowl

Race Recap: Rude, Mills, Kowalik earn wins at Cotton Bowl

PAIGE, Texas (May 4, 2024) — Regional Dwarf car master Dustin Rude; Stock Car veteran Richard Mills, and rising star Dylan Kowalik all won features in their respective divisions, as MAN Racing Promotions hosted a full card of racing on Saturday night at Cotton Bowl Speedway. 

Rude powered to victory in a hotly-contested tilt for the Dwarf Car Racing Series of Texas (DCRST); Mills prevailed in a talent-filled affair for IMCA Stock Cars; while Kowalik held off defending champion Tim Homeyer at the line to claim the Factory Stock feature. 

Ageless wonder Jeff Shepperd (IMCA Southern SportMod); Darrell Rhodes (Street Stock); and Taylor Fuller (Sport Compact) were also feature winners on a beautiful night for racing in Central Texas. 

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Rude, of Danbury, started second on a 30-car grid, drove around the outside of Dylan Budnik coming off Turn 4 with just two laps remaining and hung on to earn top honors. Budnik crossed the stripe in second, while Brandon Spreen filled out the podium. Dillon Spreen and Kaegen Moore completed the top five. 

“The track was actually very technical tonight,” Rude said in Victory Lane. “I tightened the car up, thinking the track was going to get slick. The car got tighter and tighter in the middle. I saw Spreen (Brandon) down there trying to work the bottom; then I seen Budnik, and I knew it was time to go.” 

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Dwarf Car Racing Series of Texas A Main were Dusty Jager, Brady Ricks, Dillon Payne, Keith Lischer and Tony DeGeorge. Seven cautions slowed the pace, all for minor incidents. With over 40 teams on hand, it was a challenge just to make the show on Saturday night. 

Jager, Rude, Budnik and Ricks all won their respective qualifying Heats, while Payne won the B Main. 

Mills, of Anderson, Texas, started second on a 20-car grid, inherited the lead at lap 15 when G.W. Egbert’s car broke while leading and narrowly edged Brandon Hood at the line for top honors. Hood settled for a runner-up finish, while Jason Batt filled out the podium with a solid effort. 

Abilene-based sensation Cutter Spalding drove up from 18th to fourth, while Mike Kirby rounded out the top five. 

“The track was hammer-down fast tonight,” Mills said. “That’s just what I like, it’s the type of racing surface I’ve won a bunch of races on. I’m just glad to be back here at Cotton Bowl, and thank all the fans for being here.” 

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Browning Auto Parts IMCA Stock Car feature were Cody Baker, Chris Birmingham, Jared Rady, Shawn Paul Lehman and Doug Lorenz. Six cautions slowed the pace, none for serious incident. George Egbert III led the first eight laps before G.W. Took over the point. 

Kowalik, of La Vernia, started sixth on a 22-car Factory Stock grid, inherited the lead from Tim Sowell at lap eight and manged to hold off Tim Homeyer at the line to earn top honors. Stormin’ Steve Sims, of Austin, needed a good night to turn his program around and got one with a solid third-place finish. 

Jeff Blackwood (Waco) and Brandon Moore (Montgomery) finished fourth and fifth, respectively. 

“My car was not good tonight,” Kowalik said. “We did not expect the track to get this dry.”

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Design Welding Factory Stock feature were Dillon Gaither, Michael Bowles (started 21st), Sowell, Garrett Godfredson (who started 19th) and Dennis Handley. Six cautions slowed the pace, all for quick spins. Kowalik’s margin of victory was a scant .041 of a second. 

Due to time constraints, the Factory Stock feature was cut from its originally planned distance of 20 laps down to 15; yet was given a green, white, checkered finish at lap 12 since 30 minutes had already been consumed and Race Director H.E. Naumann still had several more features to complete. 

This week’s championship points program at Cotton Bowl drew an impressive 122 entries spread among six divisions. Led by the visiting DCRST Dwarfs with 42, there was no shortage of talent in the pit area on Saturday. Fans were treated to two and even three-wide action all evening long. 

With the threat of rain looming off to the Northwest, officials hustled through 12 qualifying Heats and one B Main with little delay, then quickly moved right into their features with no intermission. The hustle paid off as the entire program was completed without precipitation hampering the activities. 

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By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer