NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Dylan Sherfick exits turn four during a modified heat race Sunday night at WaKeeney Speedway.
It happened before Dylan Sherfick even could get a good run going.
Perhaps that was the plan from the rest of the field.
What it led to, though, was one of the most thrilling races I've seen at WaKeeney Speedway.
On Sunday night, the modified feature had trouble starting with back-to-back cautions. Sherfick avoided significant damage on the first caution, but had a flat tire that sent him back to the pits.
He made it back out for the "official" start of the race, but he was staring at the rest of the field from the back -- as in last place.
"I was a little upset about that deal," Sherfick said. "I guess I drive a little harder when I'm mad. It turned out the better for me."
Sherfick eventually made his way all the way through the pack, passing Van Gemmill for the lead -- and the win -- as the checkered flag flew.
"I knew my car has been fast the past couple races," Sherfick said. "I didn't know how far I was going to be able to get up there, but we ended up making it to the front and ended up winning it."
Sherfick has proven he has talent in the modified class. But when it comes to the division, his older brother, Travis, has been stealing some of the thunder with spectacular runs of late.
It's not that Dylan has struggled lately. Since getting motor and car issues figured out early this season -- leading to a slow start -- he's ran up front most nights.
He had finished second three times at WaKeeney this season -- including twice to his brother.
It looked as though Travis would finish higher than Dylan once again, especially after the start.
"Going down into one, the guy just came down and cut down my tire," Sherfick said. "I wasn't for sure if I would be able to come from the back or not. I went to the high side the first few laps and passed a few guys. Then I thought I better get on it. We ended up getting up there."
Sherfick continued to pick off drivers every lap. By lap seven, he was flying and up to fifth in the 18-car field. He was fourth by lap 10. Then third on lap 14. Second by the next lap.
But Gemmill had a nice cushion while holding down the lead. Sherfick was on a mission, though, and he wasn't about to slow down.
"Once I got around the second-place car, I saw Gemmill out there," Sherfick said. "I didn't know if I could reel him in or not. Sure enough, we just kept on catching him more and more. The last lap, coming out of two, we were pretty close over there. I didn't know if we were going to make contact or not."
He made a run at the leader on lap 19, only to have Gemmill close the door in turns three and four.
"I knew if I stayed on the bottom, I could get him coming off," Sherfick said. "There was so much more moisture on the bottom than where he was on the top. I thought I could get him coming off."
Coming out of turn two on the final lap, Sherfick snuck underneath the leader, then beat him into turn three as they battled side-by-side. At the stripe, Sherfick had completed the amazing run, winning by inches.
Sherfick has won races before, and he'll win many more in the future. What was impressive about Sunday's run was his determination and maturity. It didn't seem as though he let off the gas once, and he moved through the field with clean driving.
It's no longer safe to say he's driving in the shadow of his brother, and I'm not sure it was safe for anyone to say that at any time. Both are quality drivers and have a passion for racing. (Ironically, Travis worked his way from the back of the pack up to third during the same race.)
Maybe the run surprised Dylan a bit, but it shouldn't have. He's quickly turning into one of the best modified drivers in the area.
The performance Sunday night did nothing but prove that point.
* NICK SCHWIEN, HDN