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Jason Rogers, Selden, battles for position during a stock car heat race Thursday at the 31st annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa.

NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Corey Lagroon, Salina, leads a Race of Champions heat Thursday during the 31st annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa.

Salina driver deals himself into feature

By NICK SCHWIEN

nschwien@dailynews.net

BOONE, Iowa -- Corey Lagroon wasn't all smiles early today.

Perhaps it was because he was a little disappointed in his finish in his modified heat race.

Or perhaps he was sharpening his poker-face skills.

The Salina driver will have a chance to play a game of cards Saturday, thanks to a dominating run while winning his Race of Champions heat Thursday at the 31st annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone.

"It didn't feel that good,"  Lagroon joked. "They said I looked pretty fast, but it didn't feel that good to me. Maybe I'm not feeling the right things."

The car might not have felt the greatest, but the feeling he had after winning the ROC heat made up for it -- especially given the quality of competition he was up against.

The ROC heats were made up of 72 drivers in six heats. Participants had to be track champions this year, be leading a track points race or be the second-place points man at the track if the top driver wasn't competing. All former Super Nationals champs, national IMCA winners or regional champs had an automatic spot.

Lagroon is leading the track points at RPM Speedway in Hays with one race remaining.

"We had the (Aaron) Turnbull kid that won the Dakota series, and Jeremy Mills has won a lot of things," Lagroon said. "We had a lot of good cars in that. I had to pass a couple cars by not starting on the front row. We'll see where I draw Saturday -- but it will probably be in the back row, I'd guess."

Only the top two finishers in each of the six heats advanced to the ROC feature Saturday. Now, each of the drivers will draw a card to settle the starting order.

"And I didn't start on the front row,"  Lagroon said about winning the heat. "I can't buy a break here. I think I'm the only Kansas guy here that hasn't started on the front row right now."

Lagroon made the ROC feature in 2011 as well. He also qualified for the modified A-main that year.

"I think we were on the back row that year," Lagroon said. "I think if we can start up front, or just start decent, then I think we have a good shot at doing pretty decent in it. I don't know if I'll win it. There's quite a few good guys in it."

Lagroon pulled away from the field to win the heat and earn the qualifying spot.

"That is a cool honor, and there are a lot of guys that didn't make it,"  he said. "There's (72) people in that, and they only took 12 of them. That's a good deal. I'd like to race twice on Saturday, though."

Lagroon will have to wait until later today for his next chance at qualifying for Saturday's big show. Eight more drivers qualified Thursday for the main event.

"I've been drawing some tough heat races," Lagroon said. "Every heat race here is tough, but I've had national champions and Super Nationals champions -- all of it. And I'm starting behind those guys. They're hard to pass when you start in the back, let alone up front. Hopefully everything turns around for us."