By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
It's hard to miss P.J. Egbert's hot pink car. Fans at Texas Thunder Speedway have grown accustomed to seeing the No. 707 car parked in the winner's circle after the 20-lap race.
But Saturday night's IMCA Modifieds race winner, Allen Waltermire said he never saw it.
"I didn't see 'P.J. Pink' until I turned around and pulled into the winner's circle," Waltermire said.
Waltermire started the race in the second position and then held off Egbert and the rest of the field to win the division race and make a trip to the circle for the first time in two years.
"It feels good," Waltermire said after the race, the look of relief and excitement on his face, though, could have re-defined 'good.'
"It makes all the work worth it. It's good that we finally got everything together and kept it together," he said.
Egbert finished second, but still holds a commanding 667-621 points lead over Danny Gribble, who finished seventh.
Ken Old still sits third in the points race with 615 after his fifth-place finish on the track.
Egbert did visit the circle Saturday with a win in the Mini-Stocks race.
Egbert still trails Travis Zwiefelhofer (first-place, 678) and Mike Autrey (second-place, 637) in that points race with 620 accumulated in his shortened Mini-Stocks season.
Autrey finished second and Zwiefelhofer finished third.
In one of the tighter points races, Robert Simmerman closed the gap to just two after his first-place finish Saturday night in the Street Stocks class.
"I thought I was going to have to settle for second," Simmerman said.
Simmerman's racing luck had been cold but heating over the last few weeks. After a 10th-place finish two weeks ago, he finished second in last week's race and followed that finish with Saturday night's checkered-flag performance. The win is his sixth this season.
Points leader, Albert Wininger Jr. (651) finished 14th on the track and third-place points contender Trevor Sparkman finished eighth. Only 17 points separate first- and third-place in the standings.
Corey Stepan finished behind Simmerman and Chris Ochoa finished third.
Benji Kirkpatrick trailed points leader Eric Jones' 84x car going into the final white flag of the IMCA Stock race.
Jones slowed, then pulled off to the side of the track after turn two and Kirkpatrick drove around him and through the checkered flag first.
"I thought he broke. I never touched him," Kirkpatrick said, "I just went under him."
Jones still leads the pack with 655 points with Ron Simpson (631) and Shad Stevens (606) following.
Simpson and Stevens also went two and three Saturday night after Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick's win, his seventh at the Speedway, improved him yet another spot in the points race to 10th with 454 points.
"With these national points, you're either a hero or a zero," Kirkpatrick said, "first-place is all that matters anymore."
In the IMCA Southern SportsMods class, Shannon Dulock finished first, followed by third-place points contender, Shad Stevens (600) and Hardy Henderson.
Points leader, Billy White (621) finished sixth and second-place Kenny Ware (613) finished fourth.
Joe Fuller raced to a first-place finish in the Texas Twisters class followed by Jesse Call. Gary White, the points leader, finished third and holds a 521-506 points advantage over Call.
In the Junior Mini's race, points leaders Colton Monroe (620) and Joseph Charnock (613) went head-to-head Saturday night for seven laps after Clayton Hartzog made a fourth-lap exit in the three-car race.
Charnock made it through the checkered flag first for his fifth win of the season.
And for entertainment and bragging-rights purposes only, Gary White won the Texas Twisters King of the Hill race.
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org