With only two weeks left in the life of Texas Thunder Speedway, Harker Heights racer Jason Batt is closing in on a once-in-a-lifetime goal.
He badly wants to have his name in the record books as the final IMCA Stock Car champion in track history, and Batt took a big step in that quest Saturday night.
After Friday night’s victory at Heart of Texas Speedway in Elm Mott, Batt started 12th in a 19-car, 20-lap feature at TTS and patiently picked off competitors one by one until lap 10, when he moved into the second spot behind Killeen’s Anthony Otken.
Two circuits later, coming into turn four, Batt dived low and edged by Otken’s left side, with only inches between the two. That move gave him the lead, and as fans know, when Batt gets out front with a head of steam, he’s hard to catch. Nobody would on this night, either.
I’ll miss watching Jason race, just like I’m going to miss all our drivers, as the end is really close now. Another thing that makes it fun is how you never know who’ll take the checkered flag, and sometimes drivers considered to be underdogs will pull out of nowhere and grab the laurels.
Case in point is a guy who refers to himself as “Underdog.”
Killeen’s Randy Doyle, who said he “had forgotten the way to Victory Lane,” got his memory back Saturday in a 16-car IMCA Southern SportMod main event.
Early on, Doyle’s No. 65 was trailing leader Kevin Stanford, who races out of Oglesby and managed to sneak by to the lead, but Doyle wasn’t out of the woods by a long shot, not with the Belton-based car of track points leader G.W. Egbert IV bearing down hard.
Doyle was able to counter the hard-charging Egbert’s every move and take that long-awaited ride to the Winner’s Circle.
There wasn’t much drama in the IMCA Hobby Stock feature race, because it turned into a runaway, green-to-checker win for Waco driver Robert Scrivner, who took the top spot right from the start and was never really challenged.
Then it was back to slam-bam action when 24 Street Stocks hit the track, but things weren’t like last week, with three wrecks before one lap was completed.
This time, there was only one caution flag at the start and once that was cleaned up, Killeen racer David Dunn moved ahead. By lap six there was a dogfight for the lead between Dunn and Nolanville’s Gary Norman. Those two went at it for another eight times around the quarter mile, before Georgetown’s Jacob Wininger got involved ... in a big way.
Wininger took over on lap 16 after a stout battle, and when it was all over, he had parked his streamlined machine in Victory Lane.
Once again, the Texas Twisters kicked off their A-Main from a standing start, and Copperas Cove racer Trevor Hudson, starting from the pole, spurred his 75R to a fast lead and never looked back until he was standing in the Winner’s Circle.
Another flag-to-flag win was put up by Killeen’s Ryan Ellis, who piloted his Outlaw Twister to Victory Lane, but he had to earn it, due to fierce pressure from Cove driver Taylor Florio.
Four lead changes highlighted the IMCA Modified feature race. Hutto’s Mike McCarthy had his car on top after five laps, but gave up a left-side pass to Justin Radcliff. The China Spring racer soon found himself in second, after Killeen driver Scooter Bates went by. Bates led by three car lengths until Hewitt’s Dillon Smith passed him on lap 17 and headed off at high speed for Victory Lane.
Last on the race card was another Powder Puff Derby, this one featuring significant others of racers in the I-Stock, Hobby Stock and Street Stock classes.
Two of the ladies, Jennifer Silva and track pit steward Ziggy Barnes, had to start a lap down because they had both been registered drivers in the past ... then disaster struck.
Barnes, who raced full time in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, had borrowed Buck Owens’ No. 8 I-Stock, but it started leaking transmission oil, so she was black-flagged before the show even started. Sad, since it was to be her last race at the track she had called home for more than 30 years.
Patty Hardcastle, driving her husband’s 829 Street Stock, led from flag-to-flag and got the win.
Thanks and thoughts ... a big thank you to Dan Corbin and Associates for once again offering added prize money to drivers with the name Willie Palmer on their cars. Palmer was a Fort Hood MP and big-time race fan who worked in the pits at Texas Thunder before being deployed to the first Gulf War, where he lost his life. It was the 21st and final Willie Palmer Memorial Race Night at Texas Thunder Speedway.
I asked several people at the track if it has sunk in yet that we only have two race nights left before the heavy equipment moves in and demolishes this Killeen landmark.
Most agreed it’s such a shame, after all the work promoter David Goode has done over the past four years to get the track in its best shape ever, with big car counts, exciting racing and a family-friendly atmosphere, that it has to fall victim to urban sprawl.
The track was here first, but I guess that doesn’t matter.
There’s two nights left.
See ya at the track.