NICK SCHWIEN â ¢ Hays Daily News Mike Nichols takes the low line to get by Jason Davis during a stock car heat race Saturday night at RPM Speedway in Hays.
By NICK SCHWIEN
Jason Rogers parted the sea.
Then Mike Nichols rode the momentum from his wake.
In the end, Nichols washed passed Rogers and into victory lane Saturday night in the stock car feature at RPM Speedway in Hays.
"Jason had the waters open for him early in the race, and he got up front," said Nichols, a multiple-time national champ in the IMCA stock car class. "He's a hard racer, and I knew he was going to be tough to get around. But they did a great job with the race track as always here. We had two and three-wide racing. But Jason was glued to the bottom and was holding his line. I knew it was going to be tough. I got pretty fortunate on the last restart where I wasn't leading, and Jason spun the tires a little bit and I got a pretty good start and got up alongside of him. He had to concede the bottom to me."
Rogers started 11th and went right through the middle of the pack into second by the second lap. After a restart, the Selden driver was out front on lap three, passing Jason Davis.
"It opened up for me, and I was able to get there real quick," Rogers said. "I knew Nichols was coming, just didn't know where from."
While Roger led, the action was three- and four-wide behind him, with Nichols, Kyle Vanover, Jeff Tubbs, Tyler Tipton and B.J. Wagoner jockeying for position.
"Honestly, when I saw 37 and 19 in front of me late in the race, I thought third place would probably be pretty good tonight," Nichols said. "I'd be pretty happy if I could get another position. I passed the 19 on one of the restarts and thought, 'Well, maybe if I get lucky here I can get around Jason.' He spun the tires a little bit on the restart, and I'm sure he's kicking himself right now for that."
Nichols kept plugging away, moving into the top three on lap six behind Rogers and Vanover.
The three staged a tight battle, but it turned into a two-man race when Vanover was sent to the back for spinning Rogers in turn four near the halfway point.
On the restart, Nichols made his move for the lead.
"In one and two, it was just slick top to bottom," said Nichols, who made the trip from Harlan, Iowa. "There was just a little bit of patch of moisture on the bottom, kind of all the way through -- but especially coming off of two it was really good on the bottom. But in three and four, getting into corner three it was really, really heavy. On a dry-slick track, usually you don't want to let the backend get away from you. But when there's that much moisture there, you can actually back the car in normally like you could in a heat race. That's what I was doing and could kind of hit that. Then the moisture would go away. But you could kind of carry your momentum throughout the rest of the corner. That allowed me to pass a couple of cars. That's dirt track racing. You have to go where they're not sometimes."
Nichols never relinquished the lead, and Rogers settled into second. That left a battle for third, which Wagoner ended up snagging by inches ahead of Tubbs and Shaylon Holloway.
"For a weekly night, this is as good as you're going to get for Fall Nationals," Rogers said. "And we're only racing for $300. I think it was awesome. I wish the weather was better so we had a few more fans in the stands to get to see that kind of show."
* Travis Sherfick passed younger brother Dylan and Roger Peck to take the lead before the halfway point en route to the win in the modified feature. Dylan finished second, with Cody Gearhart in third and Corey Lagroon in fourth.
* Trenton Kleweno picked up his first sport mod win of the season in Hays, taking the lead on lap eight and holding off a hard-charging Tyler Frye, who won the first three races at RPM. Blaine Walt was third, and Clay Money was fourth.
* Trevor Schmidt grabbed his first career hobby stock feature win in impressive fashion. He won the B-main and started 17th in the feature. A large pileup on the front stretch early halted the race and ended the night for five drivers. But Schmidt was able to avoid all the chaos and took over the lead on lap nine when he inched by step-grandfather Leon Pfannenstiel. Cody Graham added intrigue to the family battle up front, passing Pfannenstiel -- his father-in-law -- for second with two laps remaining. Pfannenstiel was third, and Aaron Honas was fourth.
* Monte Honas, in his first race this season, started 10th and made his way to the front on lap seven, then pulled away for the big win. Brandon Lobdell was second, followed by Michael Smith and Shyla Hughes.
* Racing returns to RPM Speedway on May 18 with the regular five classes.