Driver brings out backup for Boone

There's something to be said about determination.

After a rough weekend, perhaps that's the only thing keeping Matthew Crowell going.

The Northern sport mod driver from Clearwater nearly had his trip to the 31st annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa, end before it began.

On Saturday night, Crowell was passing for second place when he spun and was hit hard by the car trailing him. His ride was totaled.

His dreams of racing this year at Boone nearly were, too.

But Crowell, who races regularly in western Kansas, battled until the wee hours of the morning on his old car he found sitting idle in the back of his shop at home.

"I wasn't even really thinking about going,"  Crowell said. "I threw it out of the picture until I got home and saw this white car sitting in the back of the shop. It had a layer of dust on it."

Crowell thrashed all night on the backup car, switching usable parts and everything else he could find.

When the annual Super Bowl of dirt track racing kicked off Monday, Crowell was ready -- although admittedly tired.

"I knew a lot of people wanted to see me up here racing," Crowell said. "I did everything I could to make it down here. Whatever comes of it, who knows. I'll just do my best."

It was a rough couple of weeks for the Crowells, His younger brother, Jacob, totaled his hobby stock in a rollover accident the week before at Thunderhill Speedway near Topeka. Last year, Jacob nearly made Saturday night's A-main. This year, he's forced to watch his older brother.

"I didn't even know if I would make it out here or not,"  Crowell said. "But I really didn't want to give up. ... All I wanted was for one of us to make it."

Crowell ran a strong race in his heat Monday. It was one of 20 sport mod heats.

But he failed to qualify for the night's feature. Instead, he was forced to compete in consolation races in order to try to accumulate the most points he could in order to possibly make Wednesday's last-chance qualifier -- if his second attempt at qualifying doesn't work out today.

Crowell turns 21 on Thursday, and he'd love to celebrate with a spot in Saturday night's big show.

Only time will tell, though. But judging by Crowell's determination just to race this week, he'll put in all the time and effort necessary to make that dream happen.

* NICK SCHWIEN, Hays Daily News