By NICK SCHWIEN
The shiny new sticker on Travis Sherfick's modified sparkled in the lights of the pits.
So, too, did Sherfick's smile.
One race with a crate engine, one win.
"We've stayed right in there this year," Sherfick said. "It's been a good year, but I've struggled a little bit. My old car, it's definitely showing some age on it. We found some welds broke on the frame, and we had to do a bunch of stuff on it. I think next year we'll try to get a new car, put a crate in it and see what happens."
The ol' car and new engine did the trick Saturday night at RPM Speedway in Hays as Sherfick collected his third win at the track this season.
That new engine, a 604 crate, and his spoiler won just a few days after the WaKeeney driver won a title at his hometown track with a claim engine.
But Sherfick had heard the hype about the crate, a lighter engine than a claim motor. And those running a crate can use a spoiler on the back to provide downforce -- two reasons the engine has been raising eyebrows this year in the IMCA, some even saying it provides an unfair advantage.
Perhaps that was a key to Sherfick's success Saturday in Hays. It also doesn't hurt any that he's a talented driver as well.
He started eighth in the 20-lap feature and was third on lap seven when the first caution flew.
A lap later, he was second. After another lap, he passed Ronnie Hill for the lead.
The red flag would fly for Jerry Teel's nasty flip on the backstretch the next lap. But even the delay didn't hurt Sherfick.
He'd go on to lead the rest of the way and increase his margin every lap.
"I struggled getting through traffic," he said. "I thought if I could get there, I had a fast car. Then that caution came out, and we got bunched back up.
"I did notice with this crate, you can drive it into the corner -- like on the bottom -- so much harder than those guys. I think their cars slide, which I was fighting before I put it in. Corner entry, the top was fast down there, but you could still drive it in as hard as those guys on the bottom and at least stay right beside them. It will be interesting to see if they keep going with them and change the rules on them this winter."
While Sherfick won the race and checked out from the field, the battle for the modified track title was hotly contested by Sherfick's younger brother, Dylan, and Salina's Corey Lagroon.
Lagroon entered the night with a slim lead in track points. He started 10th, while Dylan started ninth.
Dylan Sherfick eventually finished second, with Lagroon right behind him.
"It was one of those deals where I have to run the best I can and hope there's some bad luck for him, per se," Dylan said. "He ran good all year. ... I can't complain. Second isn't too bad."
Lagroon secured the title by finishing only one spot behind Dylan Sherfick. In the process he became the first driver in any class at RPM to win three track crowns.
"It's good, and I like this place," Lagroon said. "The guys we race with are good, and we have some fast cars here week-in and week-out. I hope to think it kind of tunes you up for Fall Nationals coming up. If it's slick like that, I have a long way to go because I'm clear out in left field, though."
Tim Watts finished fourth, his second top-four finish in as many races. On Aug. 24, he was second to Dylan Sherfick.
* Monte Honas won his 10th sport compact feature in a row, followed by Michael Smith in second. Smith won the track title after Honas missed the first points race of the season, leaving him several points behind Smith entering the night. Dallas Dunn was third, with Kirk Pfannenstiel fourth.
* G.W. Fuller made it a sweep in the hobby stock class. Fuller won the track title and Saturday's feature in a hard-fought battle with Garrett Hager -- who finished second in both instances. Aaron Gray was third in the feature, followed by Kent Tammen.
* Tyler Frye swept the track crown and feature win Saturday in the Northern sport mod class. Frye grabbed the lead on lap 12 when Jake Krone -- last year's track champ -- pulled off with a failing car after he had checked out from the pack. It was Frye's sixth win in Hays this year. Cody Pancake was second, followed by Kurtis Pihl and Dustin Daniels.
* Jeff Tubbs had the stock car title wrapped up when he signed in to compete Saturday, then he went out and won the night's feature as well. It was his second win in Hays this year. Nick Tubbs, his younger brother, came from last to second, and Josh Hudson was third. Nolan Remus finished fourth.