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In the Pits

The final few races of the 2013 season are winding down. With that said, let's take a look back at some of the phenomenal feats accomplished this season by area drivers.

And don't forget: Fall Nationals VII at RPM Speedway in Hays is set for Oct. 10 to 12. I guarantee you won't want to miss the action as the annual event celebrates its seventh season.

* It's hard to believe the success Monte Honas had this season in Hays. The sport compact driver from Ellis missed the first two shows of the season at the Sunflower Classic due to his wedding. Then he missed the first points night at the track while waiting for clearance from his doctor after back surgery. How did he respond? Well, he won the next 10 sport compact feature races. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's the most feature races won by a driver in any class in the track's history.

* Speaking of success: Colby's Jeff Tubbs won four track titles, a series championship and state title in the stock car class. Congrats, Sally. What a great season from start to finish.

* Here's a few drivers to keep an eye on next year. WaKeeney's Cory McGann and Portis' Travis Coop. McGann had a solid season in the Northern sport mod ranks. He didn't have a win at Hays or WaKeeney, but he consistently -- and perhaps quietly -- ran toward the front of the pack most nights. Watch for him to make some noise next year. Coop burst onto the scene in the hobby stock class. He, too, didn't grab a win at Hays or WaKeeney, but Coop was fast. He also was the only hobby stock driver from Kansas to compete in the 31st annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa. He held his ground in his first year of racing anything, nearly making the big dance. There's two guys to expect great things from in the future.

* Speaking of the Super Nationals, my sincere thanks goes to RPM Speedway, Ross Harms with Lewis Automotive Group, Jason Schoenberger with Super Oilwell and Glenn Unrein at Golden Plains Trucking for sponsoring the trip. Without great people like that supporting area racers, publicity would be hard to come by. I'm proud to say The Hays Daily News is the only newspaper in Kansas to regularly cover dirt-track racing. Thanks goes to Leon's Welding and Fabrication, APAC, Simpson Farm Enterprises, D&B Motors and Xtreme Motorsports for sponsoring the three editions of the racing tab. Thanks for everything. Without you, it wouldn't be possible.

* It's been fun to get people's opinions on the crate motor this year. I can understand both sides of the issue. It doesn't matter what a driver has under the hood -- as long as it's legal. I'm going to cover racing and enjoy it either way. I still think it comes down to who's behind the wheel, though. There's no way I could jump into a modified and go out and win a feature or heat -- even if I was the only one on the track.

* Hats off to Cody Graham. He had a marvelous run in the hobby stock class to start the season. Then he was involved in a wreck at WaKeeney that severely damaged his car. A lot of hours went into putting it back together, only to have him total it out with a nasty rollover at Colby. His father-in-law, Leon Pfannenstiel, let him run his older car, and Graham became successful in it late in the season. Then on Sept. 20, Graham was involved in a wreck in Goodland that damaged the replacement car. All accidents were a circumstance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes you're the windshield, and sometimes you're the bug. Graham knows that all too well.

* In racing, it's difficult to pick winners days in advance of events. You never know who will show up or what will happen. But here's a few people to watch at Fall Nationals, should they all compete: Monte Honas and Daniel Dembowski in sport compacts; G.W. Fuller, Garrett Hager and Shannon Anderson in hobby stocks; Tyler Frye, Ben Kates and Clay Sellard in sport mods; Jeff Tubbs, Brandon Czarapata, Jason Rogers, Justin Temeyer, Kyle Vanover and Mike Nichols in stocks; and Jesse Sobbing, Dylan Smith, the Sherfick boys, David Murray, William Gould, Jimmy or Richie Gustin and Corey Lagroon in mods. Really, the mod race is wide open. It will be interesting to see if a crate driver takes home the $5,000 at the end of the night.

* Nick Schwien is online racing editor at The Hays Daily News