By Kevin Posival
The Cove Herald
KILLEEN - Benji Kirkpatrick had nothing given to him, still he received the trophy after Saturday night’s IMCA Stocks feature race at Texas Thunder Speedway.
Kirkpatrick, points runner-up Eric Jones and Jason Bogard battled for the top position for five laps before all three were sent to the back of the 10-car field after a ninth-lap mixup caused a caution flag to drop.
Shad Stevens took advantage of the front-runner’s misfortune and led four of the next six laps. Kirkpatrick claimed his first lead briefly after an 11th-lap caution but Stevens would, again, lead the field by No. 12. He ran with it until Kirkpatrick made his move around turn 3 of the final lap and finished it off with a race to the finish and Kirkpatrick’s bumper out in front.
“It was all or nothing for me (after the first caution),” Kirkpatrick said. “I tried things that I normally wouldn’t do if I was in the lead. I knew at the end it was a 50-50 shot.”
The win increased Kirkpatrick’s track points lead to 10 ahead of Jones (337) and 21 ahead of Stevens (326).
Robert Simmerman inched closer to his third consecutive street stocks championship with another feature win after a streak of bad luck kept him out of the winner’s circle and let Trevor Sparkman overtake him in the points race.
“I’ve had a couple bad nights,” Simmerman said. “It started out like that last year, too. You’vr going to have your bad nights, everyone is going to have them.”
Simmerman turned his luck around twice in his feature race. After starting in the 11th position, Simmerman had moved up to third by the third lap and second by the fourth. There he stayed until lap 18. He made his move on leader Floyd Pruitt around turn 2, but an accident on the other side of the track slowed the race and sent him back to second-place to retry the final two laps. Out of the caution, Simmerman made his move again, this time around turn 4, and sped away from Pruitt on the final lap.
“I was really content with second,” Simmerman said, “but I kept watching (Pruitt) come out high on the corners. So I started high and came around beneath him. I knew if I could get my entire car out in front of him, I’d have him.
“Trevor (Sparkman) is staying consistent. I gained some points on him, but probably not enough to get around him tonight.”
Sparkman had his taste of troubles Saturday night and finished in eighth-place. He still leads the division with 326 points on the season, but Simmerman’s win cut Sparkman’s cushion to just six.
Kevin Green and Kenny Stone walked away with easy IMCA SportsMods and Modifieds wins. Green led the SportsMods 14 of the race’s 15 laps and Stone led the Modifieds the last 15 of the 20-lap race. Pat McGuire still leads in the Modifieds’ point standings 343-338 over runner-up Keith White. White finished fourth behind McGuire on the track and Randall Harwell finished behind Stone.
White, though, still has a commanding 30-point lead in the SportsMod class over runner-up Eric Tomlinson. Mike McDougal sits in the third with 296 season points. White finished second behind Green an Sid Kiphen (seventh-place, 278 points) finished third.
T.J. Yagalla moved a single point closer to Texas Twisters’ points leader Keith Desmarais with a first-place finish. Unfortunately for him, Desmarais finished right behind him.
The Teen Mini-Stocks class is still heating up like no other. Joseph Charnock finished ahead of the field Saturday night and the win gives him a one-point lead over runner-up Colton Monroe, who finished second. Brandon Colburn, third-place in the division standings, finished fourth behind Travis Zwiefelhofer, but Zwiefelhofer still trails Colburn in the standings by 19 points (300-281).
The Memorial Day weekend brings the annual Willie Palmer Memorial races to the track.
Every feature winner displaying Palmer’s name on their car will receive an extra cash payout at the end of the night. Those races will be broadcast live over the Internet for the first time in track history to reach soldiers over seas in honor of Palmer, an avid TTS fan who died in the first Gulf War.
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.