NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Clint Bowyer pilots a modified car during Mod Mania on Tuesday night at RPM Speedway in Hays.
NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Jared Landers leads David Murray Jr. during a modified heat race Tuesday night at RPM Speedway in Hays.
By NICK SCHWIEN
He was fast in his heat race and faster in his B-main.
But Jared Landers didn't think he actually had a chance to win the modified feature Tuesday night during the Mod Mania event at RPM Speedway in Hays.
That all changed in a hurry, though.
"I didn't think I had that good of a shot until we fired the green off," Landers said. "I didn't know how hard it was going to be to get up through those cars. The car was so fast. It was a really fast race car."
Landers, who hails from Arkansas and is a member of NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer's late-model team, made the trip to Hays as Bowyer made a return to compete in the second annual event that featured $2,000 to the winner of the night's modified feature.
Landers was in a transfer position in his heat race, only to be caught up in a fender bender that dropped him out of one of the two automatic qualifying positions from the heat.
That forced him to transfer through one of the three B-mains, which he won. That gave him a 15-place starting spot in the A-main.
"I was sitting back there thinking I have to win this race," Landers said. "I got closer and thought I had to win this race to get them some money to get them home."
Landers was driving a Jet Racing modified made in Beatrice, Neb., and the car had plenty of work to be done to it after each of the races. But it was fast each time Landers took to the track.
After the third lap of the feature, he was seventh. After lap four, he was side-by-side with Dylan Smith at the stripe for third.
Landers then tucked in behind leader Brandon Blochlinger before Jeremy Frenier made a charge back to the front after starting on the pole.
Smith led a few laps before Landers made the pass for the lead on lap 16 while battling through rough track conditions due to the nearly 6 inches of rain the past few days.
"I imagined he was going to be the one to beat," Frenier said. "Those late-model guys, they have to race on tracks like that a lot throughout the year. I know he knows how to stand on the gas."
After taking the lead, Landers pulled away from the field. But he had a flare for the dramatic at the end.
Chris Bragg spun on the front stretch while battling for position with another car right in front of Landers.
Landers tried to avoid Bragg but couldn't, tagging Bragg as Landers went spinning across the finish line for the win.
"Never had a finish like that," Landers said. "That was big. I just thought we were going to finish the rest of his car off."
"You don't have many finishes like that out there," Smith said.
It was only the second time in two years Landers was behind the wheel of a modified. He's been concentrating primarily on his late model and even drove a NASCAR truck last week on the dirt track at Eldora.
"I'm glad we could win in a car I've never sat in," Landers said. "Johnny Saathoff helped me out tremendously on the car, made some changes I needed. We agreed on it, and the car was good from the back."
Frenier finished second, with Smith in third and Bowyer -- who started 12th after the redraw -- in fourth. Corey Lagroon rounded out the top five.
* Chris Heim started on the pole and battled with Cory Struckhoff for several laps before pulling away to win the Northern sport mod feature and pocket $1,000. Struckhoff was second, with Tracy Holloway in third.