NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News David Murray Jr. tries to make the high side work in turns one and two to pass David Solberg during a modified heat race Saturday night at RPM Speedway in Hays.
By NICK SCHWIEN
He couldn't quite put his finger on what the problem was.
But after a few years, David Murray Jr. finally figured it out.
That solution led him to his sixth modified win of the season Saturday night at RPM Speedway in Hays and capped off a solid year where he won his first track championship at RPM.
Murray, from Oberlin, had raced sparingly in previous years, but this year he wanted to fix something that had been bothering him.
"We had only been here a few times, other than this year," said Murray, a four-time IMCA modified national champ. "I really struggled here. I thought we were just going to race here weekly and figure it out. When I can't figure a track out, it kind of drives me nuts. I thought we'd race here all year and kind of get it figured out."
Murray figured the 3âÑ8-mile dirt oval out this year, winning half of the modified features in Hays -- even claiming his 500th IMCA feature win in late May at the track.
"It used to be one of my least favorite tracks," said Murray, who won the 2009 title at the track's Fall Nationals. "But we did have some success here. This year, it's kind of a nice race track for us."
Murray started Saturday night's regular-season finale at the track on the outside of the fifth row.
While it might have seemed a bit far back, it was the preferred line for the start of the race after a five-car pileup in turn four at the drop of the green flag slowed action -- and heavily damaged cars -- before the race even started.
Once the race started, Murray wasted little time getting into the top five. He was fourth on lap two, behind leader Kyle Rohleder, Brian Calhoon and David Solberg.
Calhoon pulled alongside Rohleder at the stripe on lap 10, then took the lead on the next lap. Murray got by Solberg on the 10th lap and passed Rohleder a lap later to trail only Calhoon.
"I haven't brought a different setup than I've ever run here, but I think I figured out how to drive the race track," Murray said. "That's the biggest deal. I always thought we were way off on the setup, so I chased that for a while. But we weren't. I just wasn't driving the track right."
Murray slowly reeled in Calhoon until they hit lap traffic on lap 18. That's when the two drivers split a lap car on the front stretch, with Calhoon going low and Murray edging along the wall going into turn one.
"I had a good run on the top, but I didn't know if the 75 (car) was going to come up because he didn't know I was there," Murray said. "He saw Brian on the bottom, and I thought he might move up just to get out of the way. I didn't know if there was going to be room, so I just hesitated a little bit -- which cost me the pass there. I didn't know if we were going to end up getting that done or not."
As Murray threatened to make the pass again in turn three, the caution flew.
"You can hear them," Calhoon said. "There's a pretty good field of cars. You know they're coming."
"I thought, 'Boy, I needed that caution,' " Murray said. "I was breathing kind of heavy, and my hand was getting stiff and numb. I thought that yellow had to be good so I could catch my breath and go again."
Calhoon paced the field back to green with two laps remaining, but Murray bolted low in turn one, making the pass. He'd go on to lead the final two laps for the win.
"I knew what was going to happen because I could hear somebody beside me," Calhoon said. "I figured who it was."
"I knew we had a couple laps," Murray said. "Sometimes second is the place to be because the leader sometimes doesn't know. You can kind of set a guy up -- basically like that guy did Brandon (Blochlinger) at Super Nationals."
Calhoon finished second, with Solberg taking third -- his best finish this year at RPM. Dylan Sherfick rounded out the top four.
"On a track like this, it seems like if anyone can hit the grip, they can pretty much just go," Sherfick said. "I got a good jump on the top side at the start, and managed to end up fourth. I can't complain."
Travis Sherfick finished second in track points, followed by Dylan Sherfick and Corey Lagroon.
* Shaylon Holloway won his first stock feature at RPM, taking the lead on lap nine of the 20-lap event. Josh Hudson, who started eighth, finished second, followed by Jason Rogers and Nick Tubbs. Tubbs won the track title, winning six races in Hays this season. Terry Cunningham was second, with Adam Blathazor in third and Pat Bedore in fourth.
* Dustin Daniels charged from his 10th-place starting spot to win the sport mod feature. Cory McGann was second, with Jake Krone -- after starting 15th -- in third. Cory Struckhoff was fourth. Krone, propelled by his five wins, won the track title, followed by Blaine Walt, Jason Nelssen and Daniel Gottschalk.
* G.W. Fuller passed Daniel Irwin with two laps remaining in the hobby stock feature to claim the win. It was his fourth win this year in Hays. Irwin was second, followed by Aaron Gray and T.C. McKain. Brian Stich won the track title, followed by Cody Graham, Fuller and Garrett Hager.
* Zach Olmstead started 10th but worked his way into the lead by lap five in the sport compact A-main. He'd lead the rest of the way to take the checkered flag. Art Herzog finished second, followed by Shyla Hughes and Allen Rice. Monte Honas won the track title, while Hughes was second. Vincent Jasper and Herzog rounded out the top four.