By Justin Boyd
Killeen Daily Herald
Texas Thunder Speedway kicks off its 2005 season with a weekend chock-full of racing action.
In addition to tonight's season opener, which will include racing in five classes IMCA Modified, I-Stock, Thunder Stock, Mini Stock and Street Stock TTS will hold the final event of the Smiley's Ice Breaker Series on Sunday.
A five-track special racing series that features IMCA Modifieds, I-Stock cars and IMCA SportMods, the Ice Breaker series will cap what should be an exciting weekend of racing, according to track promoter Pat Wilson.
"Everybody's real excited about the beginning of the season," Wilson said. "Everybody's got their cars ready to go."
Wilson said he expects to see between 100 and 120 cars for the season opener and about 90 for the Sunday event.
"This is an exciting time," Wilson said. "You know, at the midseason point some of the drivers are fighting each other and some have already fallen out of the points race. Right now, all their cars are prettied up and they're raring and ready to get going. It's just a whole lot of fun."
He added that the Ice Breaker series should provide area race fans a special treat.
"We're going to have some of the best racers in this part of the country here," said Wilson, who is considering adding the SportMods series to the TTS schedule on a weekly basis some time in the future.
One of those racing in the Ice Breaker series is TTS track legend Keith White, who will compete in the SportMods race on Sunday.
White has won the past three Modified track titles and would be the odds-on-favorite again this season. However, according to Wilson, White will likely only run a limited TTS schedule and will instead spend a majority of the season traveling around the state in search of a SportMods championship.
Without White, the chase for the Modified track title is wide open.
Last season's Modified runner-up Hardy Henderson will likely challenge for the crown along with Brian and Gregg Killingsworth, Danny Gribble and Greg Atwood. Atwood, White's Modified teammate, came on strong late in 2004, winning a handful of races and posting several top 5 finishes.
Other favorites in the Modified division include the Egbert family of George, G.W., P.J. and Trevor. Much like White, though, the Egberts' chances will depend on how many TTS dates they make as they also compete at several other tracks.
The I-Stock class is the largest division and could likely be the most competitive. Last year's champ Anthony Otken could repeat if he returns to the division. After winning last season, Otken expressed some interest in competing in the Modified division in 2005.
Chris Moore, who finished second to Otken by just two points, is a contender along with Richard Riley, Jason Batt and Shad Stevens.
Mini Stock favorites include defending champ Jason Hoffman, Kenny Ware, David Stewart and Billy White.
In the Thunder Stock class, 2004 title winner Jessie James Cox Jr., runner-up Trevor Sparkman, Bobby Norton and Robin Rasmussen will likely vie for the championship.
Andrew Simmerman ran away with the Street Stock title last season, winning eight races and could likely do it again if he returns to the class. Other Street Stock title favorites include Robert Simmerman, T.Y. Hawkey and Cody Cooper, son of racer Scott Cooper.
Texas Thunder Speedway is a 1/4-mile semi-banked oval dirt track located west of Highway 195 on Stan Schlueter Loop in Killeen.
Gates open at 6 p.m. on Saturday, with heat races beginning at 8 p.m. On Sunday, gates open at 2 p.m. with racing starting at 4 p.m. The Sunday IMCA races Modified and I-Stock will serve as track points races.
For more information, call 628-2888 or visit www.texasthunder.com.
Contact Justin Boyd at email@example.com