Time can’t slow Abbey in pursuit of third national Southern SportMod crown

Smiley’s Racing Products Southern SportMod National Champion Dean Abbey. (Photo by Jordana Keel)

BOYD, Texas – A lot had changed since Dean Abbey last won an IMCA national championship.

One thing hasn’t. The Boyd, Texas, driver is still plenty fast. 

Abbey raced to a career third Smiley’s Racing Products Southern SportMod crown this season, wheeling a Chris Bragg-owned Harris Chassis to a single-season career best 23 feature wins in 38 starts. 

“We had a heck of a season. We had really good luck all year and the attention to detail and the equipment Chris gave me was second to none,” said Abbey, who had won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012. “Everything just went our way this year. I can’t say enough about everybody who was part of this team. It was a real team effort on and off the track.”

Abbey last ran a SportMod full-time in 2013 before successful stints in both an IMCA Modified and an IMCA Sunoco Stock Car.

Bragg’s son Tyler saddled up in a Harris beginning early last season. Abbey joined the team in an active advisory role and the partnership took off.

Success came early, and again often after their campaign was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The national championship was not a goal at the start of the year. Our goal was to win as many races as we could,” Abbey explained. “We won a couple times early in the year and then Corona happened.” 

“We were able to make some changes during that break and come back stronger,” he continued. “While everybody else was iRacing, Chris and I were bench racing, trying to make our cars faster, and we were able to do that.”

Abbey won 11 of 18 starts at Southern Oklahoma Speedway and nine of 13 Boyd Raceway outings, piloting different cars to track titles at both venues. 

“Boyd and Southern Oklahoma were a good combination for us,” said Abbey, the only driver in the division with multiple track championships to his credit this season. “We were on point almost every night at both tracks and had a lot of good luck all year.” 

Also the KMJ Performance Oklahoma State champion, he had single wins at Grayson County Speedway, Heart O’ Texas Speedway and Kennedale Speedway Park as well.

While the win total impresses. Abbey and his teammates score high marks for consistency. He never went more than two straight races without winning and finished outside the top five on just five nights.

From an on-track perspective, Abbey’s three national championship seasons share a number of similarities. 

2020, obviously, will be remembered for its own unique challenges.

“This year was definitely the oddest with everything that went on,” Abbey said. “It was nice not to have to race 55 times but there were a lot of other things that happened that we’re not going to forget, for sure.”

While they spent fewer nights at the track, Abbey and wife Courtney were busier this year than during other championship-chasing seasons. Daughter Stella is six, son Sawyer just turned two and both keep mom and dad hopping. 

“When we were running for national championships in 2011 and 2012, racing and school and work was all we did,” Abbey said. “With the kids and their activities, work, school and racing two nights a week, it’s definitely more challenging now.” 

Abbey’s 87 career wins put him third on the all-time list for the Southern SportMod division. 

Starts-38 Wins-23 Additional Top Fives-10

His Crew: Wife Courtney, car owner Chris Bragg, Tyler Bragg and Jeremiah Peek.

His Sponsors: Finish Line Outdoors and Cliff’s Goodyear Auto Service, both of Springtown; Don Wilde Racecraft of San Angelo; 517 Designs of Whitney; Harris Auto Racing of Boone, Iowa; Precision Performance Racing Suspension of Oxford, Iowa; KS Engineering of Albert Lea, Minn.; and G Style Transportation of Williston, N.D.