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From left, Nick Tubbs, Jeff Tubbs, Jody Tubbs and Christie Foss pose for a photo for friends Thursday at the 31st annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa.

NICK SCHWIEN â ¢ Hays Daily News Marty Barth, Hays, talks with Gerald Tubbs, Colby, in the pits Friday afternoon at the 31st annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa.

Super Nationals a Tubbs family reunion

By NICK SCHWIEN

nschwien@dailynews.net

BOONE, Iowa -- This year at the 31st annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa, there was a completely different feeling for the Tubbs family of Colby.

And it had nothing to do with how oldest son Jeff did in the stock car big dance, although it didn't hurt.

This week's annual dirt-racing Super Bowl served as a Tubbs' family reunion of sorts, with brothers Jeff and Nick competing in the stock car division, Jeff's wife Lezley providing support, father Gerald helping in the pits, mother Jody watching from the stands along with sister Christie Foss and her husband, Justin, cheering loudly.

And there were friends and fans galore to help celebrate Jeff being one of 30 drivers out of 200-plus competing during the week who made the prestigious race.

"We're just glad to be here, we really are,"  Gerald said. "This means a lot to us, with the caliber of drivers and everybody helping everyone. We're all kind of one big family."

That included engine builder Clinton Hockersmith and crew chief Danny Carmen, who have been "adopted" into the family, as have the numerous fans in attendance.

"Being this far away from home, it's awesome," Jeff Tubbs said. "They go to most of our races back home. They're there every weekend and watching and supporting us. But to have the whole family travel eight hours to watch you race, to take off work and do this for a whole week, that tells you what racing means to this family."

A year ago, both brothers competed at Super Nationals. But their minds weren't quite focused on racing. In less than a month, their father would go in for a kidney transplant from their sister, Christie.

"I feel great, and I have ever since," Gerald said. "Christie, my daughter, is super, doing good."

Both have made a solid recovery and show no ill effects nearly a year later.

"To have him here after all he went through last year, especially since he might not even be around to come to another race -- period," Tubbs said. "Now it's the Super Nationals, and we're in (the big show)."

Tubbs qualified for the final night Wednesday, the first day stock cars competed. He started 11th in one of two qualifiers and had to advance into the top four to make Saturday night's big dance.

He did exactly what he needed to do, taking fourth.

"We were all excited," said mother Jody, who is divorced from Gerald but both get along amicably. "I didn't think it would happen. But I'm so happy for him."

Tubbs' qualifier mirrored the family's health struggles the last year. He had to avoid a few big wrecks that damaged his car.

But he survived.

"Every lap, we were constantly watching and thinking, 'Did he make it? Did he get through?' " Foss said. "Then we were on to the next lap. We were taking it one lap at a time."

The first person Foss called after the race was their grandfather, who was waiting by the phone to hear the outcome.

"We realized how special this really is," she said.

Tubbs started 22nd in Saturday's main event and moved up to ninth after the first lap. But after each caution, he was shuffled to the outside on restarts, where the racing line wasn't as good.

He eventually finished 15th.

"There's been a lot of guys that's put a lot of money in this car besides us,"  Tubbs said. "To make Super Nationals, and to have them travel to come down and watch, that's pretty cool."

On each of the 30 laps, the Tubbs family was on their feet cheering and rooting Jeff on. After the checkered flag, they still were standing and celebrating a solid run.

"Life's wonderful, and God has blessed us so much," Gerald said. "We wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for the Lord."