Worst to first. Can you think of a more gratifying way to finish tops in a stock car race?
It happened, not once, but twice during Saturday night’s racing card at Texas Thunder Speedway, and the feat was pulled off by the oldest ... and one of the youngest ... drivers on the track.
Gary Norman of Nolanville, who turned 64 last week, had something go wrong with the rear end of his car during an early heat race, but rather than throw in the towel and call it a night, the Street Stock points leader borrowed car No. 16, raced by his friend Benny Fajkus, changed the number with tape and started last in the 15-lap feature, since that’s what you have to do when driving a backup car.
Killeen’s David Dunn led from the opening green, but after a lap seven caution, it took Norman three laps to get around the leaders, then he sped away and wound up in Victory Lane. What a show!
Then, two races later, Lampasas racer Tony Hamil led the IMCA Stock Car main event until midrace, when he slid high and opened the door for Eric Jones, Pat Wilson and Jason Batt to start battling for the lead.
On lap 14, Batt had taken over, but here came Killeen 16-year-old Tristan Carman, who had come out of the most recent caution in last place due to a repair stop where his car had been worked on.
Carman worked forward and caught up with Batt, who maintained a half-car-length lead for several laps, but Kid Carman put on a tremendous burst of speed down the final straightaway and edged Batt by a tenth of a second, or the thickness of a bumper, to claim victory. Worst to first, back to front ... it was unbelievable!
A trip to the Winner’s Circle was a little easier, not much, though, for IMCA Hobby Stock winner Brandon Guiren and his Robinson-based 28 car. Guiren led comfortably for the first eight circuits, then others began to catch up. He had to contend with Garrett Rawls, Andy Roller and Paul Scrivner, but none could get much closer than a car length. As the laps faded, Guiren also had to survive lapped traffic, which he did to score his first-ever win at TTS.
Four laps into the IMCA Southern SportMod feature, Gatesville driver Sid Kiphen was about to grab the lead, but a flat tire stopped his charge and it wasn’t long before points leader G.W. Egbert IV found his way to the front, where he had to hold off the hard charge of David Goode Jr. for his victory.
Egbert, who was in his dad’s No. 70 and had also driven it to a win Friday at Heart of Texas Speedway in Elm Mott, admitted Pop may have a hard time getting his car back.
In the IMCA Modified A-main, Pflugerville’s Ben Ketteman was leading early, when Trevor Egbert emerged from a three-wide gaggle of drivers to take the top spot.
Lap 10 saw a new leader, when Belton racer Kenny Stone pulled off a quick pass, then he held off all challengers and pulled into Victory Lane 10 laps later.
That wrapped up the feature races, then several Hobby Stocks came out to compete in the class’s King of the Hill tournament. After a series of two lap sprints, Guiren and Roller were the final two left. Guiren led most of the first lap, then drifted high, giving the lead and the win, along with the bragging rights that go with it, to Roller, who races out of Bellmead.
The Texas Twister feature saw another last-minute takeover when Belton’s Michalla Beatty overtook leader Monique Bagent at the end and brought home the win.
Outlaw Twister action had Kempner driver Chris Bruner leading by half a straightaway right off the bat. His night ended abruptly when he was tagged by Copperas Cove’s Wendy Martel. The incident also removed her from competition, due to an injured right rear wheel.
Rick Smith, driving his Cove-based No. 3, inherited the lead and went on to win, despite almost being caught by Taylor Florio.
The track also put on another Kids Power Wheels race, and hats off to the winners, including Jase Wilson (age 2 & under), Jackson White (ages 3 & 4), his sister Journey White won the 5 & 6 category, Daisa Burnette (ages 7 & 8) and Hunter Hanusch in the 9 & above age group.
Each contestant got a trophy, too. Nice touch from a family-oriented entertainment venue.
Seems a shame that it’ll be gone forever in seven weeks, doesn’t it?
See ya at the track ... soon I hope.