Stories

Kirk Pfannenstiel seeks improvement, bragging rights

It's all about improving.

In all honesty, it has a bit to do with bragging rights, too.

That's what the first few seasons of competing in the sport compact class have come down to for Kirk Pfannenstiel.

The junior at Hays High School has been behind the wheel competing at RPM Speedway in Hays for four seasons, ever since he turned the legal age to compete in the IMCA series.

Pfannenstiel is one of a handful of young drivers gracing the dirt tracks from Hays High.

"The younger drivers I'm close to that I race against are in my class," he said. "There's some bragging rights with that."

Pfannenstiel has improved each of the three races he's competed in this season. He was eighth at the season opening event at RPM, then sixth the next night.

On Sunday, Pfannenstiel had his best finish of the season -- a third-place outing at WaKeeney Speedway, a track that has the sport compact class back after a few years of not competing.

"I love WaKeeney,"  he said. "We used to race there four years ago when I first started. It's a lot of fun. I'm glad it's back."

Pfannenstiel jumped into the seat in a car that didn't quite have the potential to run up front. Instead, he hung back in the pack some nights as he gained experience.

"When I just jumped into the car, I was all about the seat time," he said. "It was hard. I was used to losing, and I got used to that. Now, I've got a good car, and it's unacceptable to lose."

The desire is definitely there for the young driver. And the experience has helped him through the last few seasons. He even rolled his car last year and wanted to go back and finish the race, but his battery was dislodged and his car wouldn't fire.

"I knew my car wasn't damaged at all," Pfannenstiel said. "I built that Charger to be indestructible. I've practice my trade in the shop, and I take pride in it."

He's also had the privilege of learning under his father, Leon. He competes in the hobby stock class, and his older brother, Luke, made the leap from a hobby stock to a stock car last year.

His younger brother, Jarrett, also competes in the sport compact class, and his sister's husband, Cody Graham, drives a hobby stock.

He's also had a hand in building his own car and welding on it, a trait he's learned under his father. Leon owns Leon's Welding and Fabrication in Hays.

"My dad has taught me everything I've learned about (welding)," Pfannenstiel said.

Now, all that seat time and time spent working on the car has made him a better driver -- one who believes he can compete for track titles.

"I'm trying to win (track championships) at WaKeeney and at Hays," Pfannenstiel said. "Last year, I ran for points, and the Charger was a bit of a lemon. I lost a couple of races or points and finished not too far behind (RPM track champ) Monte Honas."

NICK SCHWIEN

nschwien@dailynews.net