• August 20, 2014

Backseat Driver: Fort Hood racer OK after hard hit at Texas Thunder

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Posted: Monday, April 2, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 11:44 am, Mon Nov 5, 2012.

I don't like being scared.

That's why you won't catch me watching a horror movie, unless it's one from the 1930s, where violence was implied and not hung out there with all the gory details.

Trouble is, I've been frightened two weeks in a row at Texas Thunder Speedway, watching race car drivers getting packed off to the hospital after being hammerslapped.

Saturday night began its feature runs with the Street Stocks and it looked like Killeen driver Bobby Norton was on his way in the 30N car. Norton was putting distance between himself and the other cars for four laps, but disaster struck and Norton wasn't involved.

A back straightaway crash between Brad Jordan and James Avant brought out the red flag, leading to a 30-minute delay while paramedics maneuvered Avant onto a backboard and out of his Fort Hood-based Chevrolet.

Avant, who flashed the V-for-victory sign to a cheering crowd as

he was loaded aboard a Killeen Fire Department ambulance, was checked out at Metroplex and returned to the track before night's end.

Big sigh of relief!

On the restart with 11 to go, Kempner driver Dave Meadows, whose age, some say, is approaching his car number (74), showed why he's been at the top of this game for decades, shooting around Norton and never looking back, en route to Victory Lane.

Another touch of mini-drama was tied in with the "original" Texas Twisters. The race itself saw three lead changes, with the final pass going to Belton's Larry Underwood. The leader had to hold off second-place Gage Fuller to win by a bumper.

Word came over the radio that two claims had been registered, where fans had ponied up $500 cash to buy one of the top six finishers. Daniel Reed's 84 car was one of those drawn and he accepted the claim. Fuller also had his car number pulled out of the hat, but said no.

There's a stiff penalty for refusing a Twister claim. Fuller has now been stripped of all points accrued and can't race the 91F at TTS until he pays a $500 fine, which will be sent to the Ryan Bard Safety Foundation, an organization that promotes racing safety.

Only two cars came out for the Outlaw Twister race, which was won by Kempner driver Tommy Hultz after he passed Killeen's Brian Bagent in the late going.

In the IMCA Stock Car main event, Harker Heights driver Richard Valentine pushed his 96 car to the lead on lap six, but had to contend with Killeen's Eric Jones and Jason Batt, another Harker Heights racer.

Both Jones and Batt, who are masters at overtaking other drivers and getting around them to duel for the win, couldn't quite get there, as Valentine crossed the finish line ahead of both track champions.

IMCA Hobby Stock action saw but nine cars sign in and it looked like there might be a first-time winner, with Waco's Jack Jenkins leading after four laps. Jenkins lost his lead to Bellmead-based Andy Roller, who cruised on to the Winner's Circle.

It didn't take long for a caution to halt the IMCA Modified feature. Right off the bat, Temple driver Adrian Yez apparently had his throttle stick, causing him to fly over the berm between turns three and four, where the A+ car came to rest in a ditch. He was OK and walked back to the pits while the race resumed.

Belton driver William Patrick McGuire, in his first appearance of the season, shot to the lead, with Cove's Cham Savage Jr. in hot pursuit. Late in the race, Savage's car broke in a shower of sparks and steam, opening the door for McGuire to open up a full straightaway lead when he took the checkered flag.

Another big winning margin was in the cards for Gatesville driver Sid Kiphen, who was going for an IMCA Southern SportMod threepeat. National points leader Kiphen, whose No. 58 had parked in Victory Lane last week at TTS and Friday at Heart O'Texas Speedway in Elm Mott, chased down Belton's Kenny Ware on circuit seven and won by a half lap.

Later, several SportMod drivers competed in a series of two-lap shootouts, hoping to be anointed King of the Hill. Fans were hoping for a repeat of the last two years, when the Goode kids, Sarah and David Jr., faced off, but it wasn't meant to be.

Sarah was ousted early, while David and Ronnie Bell's car were both disqualified for getting into a push-and-shove match, which you're not supposed to do with race cars, after Goode won his semifinal.

That set up the title dash between Killeen's Mike McDougal and track champion Kevin Green. Much to the delight of those fans remaining, McDougal scored a year's worth of bragging rights.

Back to being scared for a moment ... I paid close attention all night to make sure no one would try to get the jump on April Fool's Day and put a punk job on me, Mr. Gullible. Over the years, I've fallen for a lot of things and felt really stupid later.

But if someone had said Mike Joy was retiring from Fox TV race coverage and had hand-picked me to replace him, I'd have been packing my bags for Martinsville.

I escaped this time, so it's back to Texas Thunder for the annual Kids Easter Egg Hunt this week.

See ya at the track!

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