Keith White needed to make up eight points.
He gave it his best shot as he attempted to stake claim to the IMCA Lone Star Series modified class title Thursday night — a rare weeknight racing card that crowned champions in three sanctioned classes at Texas Thunder Speedway.
It was defending national champion White’s final series stop of 2013, and he had his car on the pole, alongside the Calera, Okla., based William Gould, who just happened to be the racer White needed to beat by eight or more points.
After 25 laps with nary a rub or paint trade between the two, the checkers waved over White, who led flag to flag and pocketed the winner’s share of $2,013, but, in scanning the field, saw Gould sitting in fifth place, enough to win the championship by four points.
Now, the two will continue their battle for the national crown, with Gould leading 1,243 to 1,213 and what both drivers need now are wins, pure and simple.
Texas Thunder regular Mike McCarthy, of Hutto, was the highest-ranked IMCA Stock Car driver from the local area, starting fifth on the leaderboard, but was pretty much out of the running mathematically, since former TTS favorite Matt Guillaume, who now competes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area due to a job transfer, came back leading the series by two points over Cory Davis, who didn’t make it to Killeen.
With third-place Gabe Tucker, of Corben, 21 points back, Guillaume knew there were 19 cars on the track, so he pulled off on lap nine of 20 with the series title in hand.
Then, it was all about who’d win the $750 top money and Harker Heights racer Jason Batt almost did, getting his car side by side with Tucker’s, which was leading with one lap to go. Tucker was able to hold on and edge Batt for the win.
Earlier, Tucker finished fourth in the IMCA Southern SportMod feature, but it was enough to snare the series championship, since he was six points ahead of runnerup G.W. Egbert IV, of Belton, and came in second.
Neither of those drivers, nor anyone else, had enough to run down the No. 9 car, piloted by Brandon Blaylock of Pflugerville, who led from the start, driving to victory lane 25 laps later and pocketing $1,000 for his first win at Texas Thunder.
The Lone Star Series was created by IMCA to give Texas racers extra seat time and the chance to win a tournament that would also count as a track championship, so hats off to these three class winners.
I also tip my Dale Jr. cap to track promoter David Goode for making Thursday not only an IMCA party, but inviting all the local classes to run, even a sanctioned division the headshed in Iowa declined to include.
Oddly, IMCA didn’t put the Hobby Stocks in this year’s lineup, but those drivers competed anyway, knowing that a win was worth $500, and they didn’t disappoint.
Waco driver Markiss Harcrow led for the first 14 laps, even after being slowed by cautions, one involving national points leader Jeremy Oliver, whose car got tangled up with Jeremy Hendrix on lap nine. Five circuits later, Bellmead’s Andy Roller passed Harcrow and picked up the victory.
Trevor Hudson left all the other Texas Twisters way behind to claim that entry-level race, while Kempner’s Chris Bruner was the Outlaw Twister top gun.
In the Street Stock A main, Wade White had the early lead until Chris Cockrell took over on lap two with a left-side pass. Eight circuits later, Copperas Cove driver Chris Florio grabbed the lead and held on through several more cautions to snare the win and the $500 winner’s share.
Keep in mind, speed week at Texas Thunder is just started. Our regular Saturday show unspools tonight at 8 p.m. with kids’ rides at intermission. It’ll be more fun than watching Pat Wilson unseal his wallet and cry when he has to buy a new tire.
See ya at the track!