NICK SCHWIEN â ¢ Hays Daily News Cody Graham rides around the track before a hobby stock heat race last year at RPM Speedway in Hays. Graham won both nights of the Sunflower Classic last weekend at RPM.
By NICK SCHWIEN
A year ago, Cody Graham hoped the dry conditions would persist.
That's what he said -- jokingly of course -- not so farmers would suffer, but because that's when he really shines on the race track.
When it came to a dry-slick setup, Graham was the man to beat when it came to hobby stock features.
It turned out Graham was right.
Dry conditions ruled the summer, and so did Graham and his special setup.
So when he saw the tacky surface Friday and Saturday night at RPM Speedway in Hays, Graham wasn't the most optimistic.
"This early in the season, we're way behind on setup," the Hays driver said. "A lot of it was me being comfortable in the seat."
After both feature events at the inaugural Sunflower Classic this weekend, Graham couldn't wait to get out of the driver's seat. But it wasn't because of frustration, instead, he was ready to celebrate.
Graham capped the weekend performance with back-to-back wins to start the season at RPM, and only a rainout at WaKeeney Speedway on Sunday afternoon kept him from a shot at winning three straight.
"I was a little nervous because it was tacky," Graham said. "We worked on our tacky setup over the winter. ... I watched a lot of YouTube videos of the Iowa drivers and how they ran on tracks like that."
Iowa tracks have a different type of dirt drivers compete on, holding moisture better throughout the year. But RPM officials brought in new dirt prior to the season opener, and that kept the track tacky mostly during the weekend.
"I'll be the first to tell you I sucked on tacky tracks," Graham said. "After the last two nights, I have all the confidence in the world."
Graham and his crew chief, Scott Fall, hit the setup from the start. On Friday night, he started 10th in the feature after finishing second in his heat. On Saturday, Graham won his heat and started seventh among a stacked field of drivers.
"It looked like the track was going to be dry slick," he said. "Then they went out and farmed it. With us trying to figure out the setup, Scott and I were both guessing a bit. I left my visor up when I pulled out onto the track and thought it was going to be a long night. The new surface at RPM, it's going to take a little bit to get used to."
It didn't take Graham long to find his groove again, though. He won the track title at WaKeeney last year and won the title at RPM in 2011.
For both of those, he used a mid- to late-season spurt when things turned dry with the hot summer sun.
This weekend, Graham said he was driving hard and throwing it into the corners and then maneuvered his way through traffic to get to the front.
"A lot of it just was patience behind the wheel," he said. "Don't put yourself in a situation you can't get out of."
When the checkered flag flew, the only thing he wanted to get out of was the car -- to celebrate his biggest wins of his career.
"I didn't expect last weekend to turn out like it did," Graham said. "There were a lot of very fast cars and good drivers at the race."
* Tyler Frye also accomplished a double win during the weekend, taking both nights of the Northern sport mod class, while Daniel Dembowski won twice in the sport compact class.
* In a new car, Jeremy Frenier won Friday's modified feature, while Iowa's Jesse Sobbing won Saturday night's A-main.
* Lance Borgman and Mike Nichols won the stock car features Friday and Saturday, respectively.
* Racing returns to RPM on April 20 with the regular five classes. It will be the first track points race of the season.