By Justin Boyd
Killeen Daily Herald
Greg Atwood has watched teammate Keith White win five IMCA Modified feature races at Texas Thunder Speedway this season, not to mention back-to-back track championships. On Saturday night, though, it was Atwood's turn to shine.
Driving the No. 23 car, Atwood moved to the front of the 23-car field on lap 6.
One lap later, however, White passed his teammate and it looked as if the Academy driver was headed to yet another victory. But as White sped through the middle of the backstretch, the fuel pump belt came off his No. 1 car, sending him to the pits.
While the mechanical problem did cost White the race lead, it didn't take him out of contention as the caution flag flew due to a wreck in the back of the pack. The caution allowed White and his crew enough time to repair the car and get back on the track before the race was restarted.
Atwood, meanwhile, picked up right where White left off, leading the final nine laps and thwarting several passing attempts by Ben Ketteman and Ken Old en route to his first victory of the season.
White recovered enough to finish in the fourth spot.
"I've been having a little bad luck and I've been testing some new stuff on the car," Atwood said after the win. "I told Keith I was tired of running third and fourth and was ready to win and so we changed the car back and put the same stuff on my car that he's running on his car. Hopefully this win will turn things around for me."
When asked if he ever gets tired of seeing his teammate win, Atwood jokingly replied, "Yeah, but no really it's good, if one of us wins, its good. I'm happy either way. We get along real good and have a lot of fun working on the cars together."
Atwood said he believes he and White benefit immensely from the two-car partnership.
"It's nice to have two cars," Atwood said. "We talk about track conditions and make adjustments between the two of us. It's not like he does his thing and I do mine. And it's fun when we get to race each other, like tonight when we were both in the front, that's fun. But I want to win. I don't come each week just to watch him win."
While White was disappointed with his night, he said he was more than happy to see his teammate end up in the winner's circle.
"I don't mind getting outrun by Greg anytime," White said. "He races hard and he races clean every week and he gives me everything I need to be able to run my car. I was glad to see him get one. I hated that it was at my expense but he needed one bad."
White's grip on the Modified point standings got a little tighter as he currently holds a 49-point edge over second place Hardy Henderson (483). Ketteman is third with 474 points, P.J. Egbert, who did not compete Saturday night, is fourth (427) and Allen Waltermire holds down the fifth spot with 424 points. Atwood is just outside the top five, a mere 10 points behind Waltermire.
In the I-Stock feature event, Killeen driver Eric Jones led wire to wire, picking up his third win in four weeks.
Defending track champion Trace Crawford ran a close second with Jason Bogard finishing third, Chris Moore taking fourth and Chris Ochoa placing his No. 13 car in the top five.
"Three out of four for the month of July ain't bad I guess," Jones said after the victory.
In the I-Stock point chase, Richard Riley dropped from the top spot to third after being disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct after he drove over the claim barrel at the conclusion of
the feature race.
Anthony Otken is the new point leader with 468 points followed by Moore (451) in second and Riley (443).
Derrick Sears and Shad Stevens are tied for the fourth spot with 432 points apiece.
Much like the I-Stock feature race earlier in the night, the I-Stock King of the Hill finals came down to Jones and Crawford.
This time, however, Crawford was able to nose his No. 63c car past Jones at the finish line to be crowned the 2004 I-Stock King of the Hill.
"We haven't done a whole lot this year, so this was pretty special," the Cpperas Cove racer said after the win.
Billy White was one of the fortunate few, able to steer his car through a long, caution-filled Mini-Stock feature race and come out in the end unscathed.
White passed Larry Ware for the race lead on lap 11, then turned back Mini-Stock point leader Kenny Ware the final two laps on way to his third victory of the season. Harker Heights driver Jason Hoffman, who is second in the Mini-Stock standings, finished third followed by Kevin West taking fourth place and Mike Autrey in the fifth spot.
Jeff Medlock seized control of the Thunder Stock race on lap 8 and never relinquished, tallying his third victory of the year.
Tony Hamil ran second followed by Michael Legore, Bobby Norton and Eric Odiorne rounded out the top five.
Due to a 16th place finish by Trevor Sparkman, Jessie James Cox Jr., who settled for a 10th place finish, retook the lead in the Thunder Stock point chase. Cox Jr. holds a slight three-point edge (498-495) over the defending track champ.
Andrew Simmerman showed exactly why he leads the Street Stock point standings, holding brother Robert Simmerman at bay for 11 laps and in the process winning his fifth feature race of the year at TTS.
"We've been trying to do that all year," Andrew Simmerman said of the Simmerman family 1-2 finish.
"But it seems like every time he wins, I finish in the back and every time I win, he finishes in the back."
The two brothers have combined to win eight Street Stock events this season, including the last two weeks.
With 520 points, Simmerman has a 26-point lead over second place T.Y. Hawkey, who finished fourth in the feature race Saturday night.
Contact Justin Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org