NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Dylan Smith uses the low line to pass Jerry Teel during a modified heat race Sunday night at RPM Speedway in Hays.
NICK SCHWIEN â ¢ Hays Daily News Jeromy Wagner (29) and Garrett Hagger (68) battle during a hobby stock heat race Sunday night at RPM Speedway in Hays.
By NICK SCHWIEN
From his position on the track entering turn three, Dylan Smith could tell he had a sizable lead.
But each time the modified driver from Osceola, Neb., would increase the advantage, something would put a wrinkle in his plans.
On Sunday night at RPM Speedway in Hays, though, Smith was able to overcome those obstacles -- mainly cautions and a red flag -- to snag a win in the 20-lap modified feature.
"My crew guy was giving me an indication I was pulling away from them quite a bit," Smith said. "So I knew the car was good. I figured if I didn't mess up on the first lap after the restart, I'd be all right."
Smith has had success at RPM before, including winning last year's inaugural Mod Mania event when NASCAR drivers Clint Bowyer and Ken Schrader were competing.
His luck hasn't been the same for the prestigious Fall Nationals, though, an event that pays $5,000 to the winner.
"I enjoy it a lot," Smith said of the track. "We'll be back ... for Mod Mania, and we enjoy that. Anytime I can come down, we enjoy it. I just need to get some luck for the Fall (Nationals). Maybe this year."
Smith, a past IMCA national champ, started third, behind pole-sitter Darrick Klima and Joe Cleveland. He wasted no time at all getting into the lead, sticking his car through turns one and two to pull out front on the backstretch.
Game. Set. Match.
"I got a good draw, drew 3," Smith said. "And on the start, the No. 11 car (Klima) slipped up a little bit and I was able to get beside him and by him coming into (turn) three. That definitely meant a lot there. The restarts, with as bottom-side dominant as it was, it was good to be in the lead."
Smith led every lap en route to the win. The only stumbling block came in the form of cautions, the final one a red flag when nine drivers piled up in turn two on a restart.
"With the red flag and everything, I was just ready for them to throw the checkered flag," Smith said. "I hate yellows once you get in a groove. But it worked out tonight."
Smith never was challenged after the final stoppage. In fact, the battle behind him for the runner-up spot was more contested than the front position.
Corey Lagroon moved into second place on lap 13 and held that position until the final lap, when Tim Ward -- who started 12th -- got by him.
"You really had to be pretty aggressive because you never know if the race is going to go green to checkered," Ward said. "Luckily, there were a couple yellows where we could keep getting by guys on the starts."
Ward, from Mesa, Ariz., finished second, followed by Lagroon and Cleveland.
"It was pretty tough," Ward said. "Everyone was fighting for the same real estate. Sometimes you would take a hole, and it would close up real quick and you could get tore up. Luckily that didn't happen to us tonight."
Thirteen cars finished the race, but 24 started in the rough and tumble event.
"Everybody was racing hard back there," Smith said. "There was a lot of good competition back there. A lot of good cars. It's always easier starting in front, I can tell you that much. I'll take it whenever I can get it."
The one-two finish of Smith and Ward gave Jet Racing a sweep of the top two spots.
"Dylan was really fast, and he's hard to beat," Ward said. "But it would have been fun to try."
* Monte Honas won his seventh feature in a row in the sport compact class, dominating the field. Zach Olmstead was second, with Michael Smith third and Tanner Chapin fourth.
* Trevor Schmidt led from start to finish in the hobby stock feature, holding off several attempts by Kurt Hansen throughout the later portion of the race. Garrett Hager snuck by on the top side out of the final turn to get second, with Hansen third and G.W. Fuller fourth.
* Clay Sellard led until lap nine of the Northern sport mod feature, only to have Tyler Frye pass him and pull away for his fifth win this year in Hays. Blaine Walt, Saturday night's winner, was second. Sellard finished third, one spot ahead of Austin Walker.
* Mike Nichols passed Jason Rogers for the lead on lap 13, then held off Kyle Vanover for the win. Nolan Remus was third, with Justin Temeyer fourth.