There it was, hanging high above venerable Texas Thunder Speedway once the sun went down.
Like we’ve seen many times before, you could almost hear that heavenly body thinking to itself, “Have fun now, while you can, in these heat races, but wait until the features get going. My bag of tricks has your name on it.”
Nonetheless, that full moon didn’t work its wiles on Saturday’s race card like we’ve blamed it for in the past.
Sure, there were a couple of mishaps, like when five cars wrecked, stopping the IMCA Stock Car main event on the race’s third turn.
Anthony Otken took over up front, but Jason Batt nosed his into a left-side pass on lap 8 for the lead.
Another caution halted the show on circuit 10 of 15 when Michael Richardson stalled on turn four, but Batt, racing out of Harker Heights, held off the hard-charging Eric Jones for the final five and drove to Victory Lane.
Later, in a show of real class, Batt brought his trophy up to the tower and said we could give it away, pointing out that his wife, Robin, who also competes in the I-Stocks, wouldn’t let him keep it, because he has so many hunks of hardware that all they do is collect dust.
Of course, he has a bunch more than she does, so you don’t think that was a prompt from the aforementioned full moon, do ya?
Thank you, Jason. You’re classier than me, since my first-place trophy from a miniature golf tournament I won in 1987 isn’t going anywhere.
We had to get the IMCA Southern SportMod feature rolling, so those drivers who planned to enter the class’s King of the Hill tournament would have time to prepare. This one was an open-and-shut case, with Belton’s Kenny Ware pushing into the lead almost immediately. He was ahead six car lengths by lap three and had a full straightaway advantage with five to go. This was a solid win for Ware, who said it had been a couple of years since he last parked on the Winner’s Circle.
Did he come back to score bragging rights in the KOH? Tell ya later.
After a short rest, the Man in the Moon, or a flat tire, or something, got involved with the Street Stock feature. Temple driver Chris Cockrell, who’s having his best season ever, had taken the top spot on lap three, when he passed Carl McConnell and David Dunn on the driver’s side of both. Cockrell was ahead by a straightaway by lap 12 and appeared to be on his way, but five circuits later, he took a hit from Ed Cox and wound up at the pit gate fence ... done for the night.
Once the carnage was cleaned up, Nolanville driver Gary Norman, the class points leader, who had started from midpack and worked his car forward patiently, found himself leading and stayed up front for the last three laps, scoring the victory.
Copperas Cove’s Taylor Florio, a 14-year-old Lampasas High freshman, sent her 21T around Cove’s Rick Smith on lap six of the Outlaw Twister race to pick up her second win of the year, both coming on race nights when her dad, Street Stock hotshot Chris Florio, was out of town.
Any connection? Only the moon knows.
Meanwhile, in the Texas Twister class, it looked like Monique Bagent was on her way to a first-ever drive down Victory Lane, but late in the race, her car faded high, allowing Harker Heights’ James Enyeart to dive inside, grab the lead and cruise to the checkered flag.
It had been a good while since Hardy Henderson of Harker Heights piloted his car to the Texas Thunder Winner’s Circle and he started off the IMCA Modified A-main in a hurry, taking the lead on lap two and putting a full straightaway between himself and those playing catchup by lap 13, but a caution flag for a Scooter Bates spin bunched up the field.
That pulled former national champion P.J. Egbert, defending national champ Keith White and the ultra-fast J.P. Dowell into a wad right behind race-leader Henderson.
It was really close at the end, with those three trying everything they knew to get by, but Handerson managed to hang on for a well-deserved win.
The IMCA Hobby Stock feature race got underway with Waco driver Joe Williams putting his car on point from the opening green flag, but officials yellow-flagged the race when Michael Hilliard hit Jennifer Brewer, sending both to the pits and giving Williams a fresh restart. Heavy pressure from Andy Roller and Ware didn’t throw Williams off his game and he went on to win for the first time this season.
With the official race card over, it was time for the SportMods to go for a year’s worth of bragging rights in the King of the Hill competition, where drivers line up two by two and run a series of two-lap shootouts until only two cars are left.
Fans were hoping to see a matchup between David Goode Jr. and his sister, Sarah Goode, and that’s what they got in the second semifinal. David won that confrontation, setting up the title dash against track points leader G.W. Egbert IV.
After two laps of hard competition, the winner was ... Egbert, who can pretty much crow about this for the rest of his life, because there won’t ever be another of these, since the track is closing forever in nine weeks.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac says our next full moon race night will be July 20.
Sadly, it will also be the last.
Come on out to the track before it’s too late.