It seems like there's no stopping this youngster ... at least no one's been able to yet, except apparently the tech inspector and his rule book.
Killeen's Kenny Stone added another page to his legend Saturday night with a come-from-way-behind dash to overtake race leader Benji Kirkpatrick 16 laps into a 20-circuit feature race and score his fifth straight IMCA Modified victory, which was taken away later.
As far as the race went, things didn't look very promising early, though.
Almost as soon as the 23-car field took the green flag, four cars - Stone, who started 12th, included - were involved in a schnozzle just west of turn one, bringing out the yellow, but there was more drama to come.
Mid race, cars driven by Pat McGuire of Belton and Bertram's Brad Jordan touched near turn three, sending Jordan on a butt-over-teakettle roll down the embankment. He walked away from it and the field was reset with Kirkpatrick, racing out of Elm Mott, Kempner's Cham Savage
Jr. and Stone in line for the restart.
On the next caution, Savage pulled off, setting the stage for Stone and Kirkpatrick's four-lap shootout.
Stone tried an inside pass on lap 16, made it and held off Kirkpatrick to grab the win.
Then, all that hard work went for naught.
During a post-race inspection, Stone was disqualified for running a digital tachometer. He said it had been in the car for years and had passed tech everywhere else, according to Shannon "Slider" Young of elbowsup.com, who said Stone shrugged it off as "a lesson learned." Stone was scored 23rd with no points and no pay. The race-winning 40 points went to Kirkpatrick.
"The rulebook is very specific about digital devices," said racetrack Technical Director Dave McElyea by phone Sunday afternoon. "Everything in that car has to be analog and not digital.
"The tach was in a place where it couldn't be seen easily. We got out the rulebook and read the rule to him (Stone) and he was disqualified."
I hated to see that happen, because Stone has become quite a folk hero and fun to watch, but if it's in the rule book ... well, as they say, rules are rules.
Be that as it may, I can't explain one thing. Maybe it's the weather, or possibly how promoter David Goode and his crew are prepping the track ... maybe those high-octane cheeseburgers the snack bar puts out have something to do wth it, but we've been treated to some of the most exciting racing I've seen in my 12-plus years calling the action at Texas Thunder Speedway.
Last year's IMCA Stock Car duels between Eric Jones and Jason Batt were amazing, but all classes seem to be into it now.
For example, take the Street Stock feature, which saw four different lead changes over a 20-lap run. Former track steward Kevin Finsley of Lampasas, who's racing full time this year, spent the first 11 circuits out front, fighting off asphalt racer Duane Toyne of Buda, who finally wrested the top spot away.
Toyne gave it up to teammate Terry Schoener three laps later, but Tschoener was surprised by a bumper tag move from Killeen's Tim Carman Jr. on the next lap, allowing Carman to pick up the lead and cruise to his second straight win.
The I-Stock main event, to borrow a phrase from Larry the Cable Guy, turned into a "Git 'Er Dunn" deal, involving three Killeen drivers.
Danny Dunn, who's currently ranked third in the IMCA rookie standngs, led the first half of the race, but fell off the pace, turning over the top spot to David Dunn, who stayed ahead of a determined Jones to score his first win of the season.
In the IMCA Southern SportMod feature, Temple's Mitch Tierney, who had come up dry the first month, moved to the front on lap one. Killeen driver Randy Doyle took over two laps later with a low-side pass, but Tierney regained the lead on lap four and went on to nab his first win of the season.
Remember my complaints last week about what I felt was the slam-bang, take- no-prisoners attitude rampant in the Texas Twister class?
It wasn't like that this time.
I don't attend the pre-race drivers meeting, but I had heard that rough driving and lifting one's foot from the accelerator when necessary would be addressed, along with more stringent use of the black flag. Everyone involved obviously took all that to heart, even though I'd like to think my hell-raising had something to do with it.
Whatever was responsible, the 20 drivers lined up put on what was without a doubt the cleanest, best-contested race so far this year in the class.
Michael Hilliard of Killeen sped off to lead the first three laps, when he was passed by Round Rock's Don Krahn, who cruised away for his fourth win in five tries.
It was a fun night filled with top-flight racing, despite the fact that some fans may have stayed home to watch the Cup race at Phoenix.
That's still a wrench in my transmission.
Why does NASCAR keep running Cup events on Saturday nights, when they know they're competing with the local tracks?
Doesn't it matter that I've asked them many times to cease and desist? Why haven't they taken my advice to ban Cup drivers from the Nationwide Series?
Yep, it still rubs me the wrong way, but I guess it's like Robert Duvall said to Tom Cruise in "Days of Thunder"... "Rubbin's racin'."
And you won't find any better racing than at that little throwback dirt track on Stan Schlueter Loop.
Just ask me ... or the fans.
See ya at the track!