• October 2, 2014

Early sprinkles don’t stop show at Texas Thunder Speedway

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Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013 4:30 am

"Joe, would you please stop cursing!”

That’s what Texas Thunder Speedway promoter David Goode said to me when I hit him with a simple question upon arriving at the track just before 4 p.m. Saturday.

With the skies partly sunny and mostly covered with black clouds, I innocently asked, “You think it’ll rain?”

I should have remembered you don’t use the “R” word at a race track. It can sure make a track boss see red, as I quickly learned.

We did get a pretty good five-minute sprinkle right at 7 p.m., which caused no problem. The fans who arrived early took shelter under the picnic pavilion and inside the souvenir shop, but quickly returned when it was apparent the show would go on.

Conditions turned out perfect and as the Street Stock feature race rolled, it soon became clear that Harker Heights driver Kelvin Harper was intent on stopping Cove’s Chris Florio from further domination of the class.

Rookie driver Harper slid inside leader Kevin Finsley on lap three for the lead, but five laps later, guess who was lurking in the shadows?

After a restart, Florio passed Harper, floorboarded his No. 21 and was gone. It was another full-straightaway win, his fifth in a row and he remains the sole undefeated driver at Texas Thunder. But there’s more to the Florio saga.

Florio won the extra money put up by Fat Daddy Designs for the fastest lap by turning a 16.007 quarter mile. Want more?

Florio also took the Street Stock King of the Hill honors for the second straight year by besting several other cars in a series of two-lap shootouts.

How long can he keep up this pace? Well, until someone beats him, and that may not be anytime soon.

Now that I’ve jinxed (unintentionally) Florio, hats off to Brittany McElroy. The young Kempner-based IMCA Southern SportMod pilot drove her best race I can remember, leading for the first nine circuits, before David Goode Jr. took over and outlasted points leader G.W. Egbert IV to the checkered flag.

My question when the IMCA Stock Car main event went green was would former track promoter Pat Wilson take his car to Victory Lane for the second time in a month, and in the early going, it looked like he might.

Wilson was tooling along in the lead when teammate Jason Batt got around him after a lap-four restart. A lap or so later, Wilson was bumped and momentarily lost control, going down onto the infield apron out of turn two, which effectively stopped any chance of a comeback. Batt proceeded to run away from the field and drive down Victory Lane.

A pair of Waco drivers pretty much took control of the IMCA Hobby Stock feature, as Paul Scrivner led for the first five laps. Coming out of turn four on circuit six, he went high, allowing Andy Roller to drop down inside to the low groove and take over. That’s where Roller stayed for the final nine laps before parking in the Winner’s Circle.

Another team was involved in the IMCA Modified outcome. Killeen driver J.P. Dowell and his partner, Kenny Stone from Belton, were jousting with Waco-area driver Dwayne Grantham. Stone and Grantham were neck and neck for laps 1-5, when Dowell, running third, got around them for the lead. He then had to contend with the hard-charging Keith White, who had moved into second place. Dowell turned up in the Winner’s Circle after another hotly contested dozen laps.

Stephanie Henderson, racing out of Harker Heights, led the Outlaw Twister event flag to flag for her second win of the season, while Michalla Beatty of Belton also picked up win No. 2 in the Texas Twister “A” main.

Our crowd and car count was a little bit off Saturday and I’m sure the rain threat had something to do with that, but in my opinion, another culprit was partially to blame. Who?

NASCAR, that’s who. Why do they keep scheduling races on Saturday nights, knowing full well that’s when many local tracks run their programs? The suits (or firesuits) in that Ivory Tower must realize that it hurts attendance at the grass-roots level. Saturday night’s race was at Texas Motor Speedway, the first time that track has ever had a night-timer, causing, I’ll bet, several fans to stay home and watch, just on general principles.

Does NASCAR care about the local tracks?

Nope.

But I do.

See ya at the track!

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