By the URSS
HAYS -- This time, there wasn't anything slowing Ty Williams down, and the Liberal sprint car driver motored his way to the front and stayed there while winning the first night of the United Rebel Sprint Series fifth annual Wheatshocker Rebel Nationals on Saturday night at RPM Speedway in Hays.
A night earlier at WaKeeney, Williams worked his way to the front with some nifty driving and checked out from the field, only to have a late caution bunch the field back up. That allowed Luke Cranston an advantage, and he got by Williams late for the win.
On Saturday night, there were no cautions, and Williams took a comfortable win as the top 10 cars locked themselves into Sunday night's 30-lap feature -- which pays $2,000 to win, one of the largest purses in the URSS.
"We've got a bullet," Williams said. "The biggest thing out there was patience."
He had that Saturday night, and a fast car as well.
Tyler Knight, driving Craig Jecha's car, started on the pole alongside Brian Hardman. Knight jumped to the lead and led the first 11 laps of the caution-free race.
But Williams was marching his way through the field. After starting seventh, he was fourth by the end of the first lap, third on lap four and second on lap 10.
On lap 12, Knight's car started to fade, and Williams went by him on the high side to take the lead.
"He's got a good motor in this things, just need to get the car under it to get it to go," Knight said.
Darren Bowman, who started fourth, held down the third spot until Brian Herbert got by him on lap 14. Two laps later, Herbert was into second.
"Ty got a good start, and I kind of got bottled up in some of those front-running cars and some lap traffic," Herbert said. "Maybe a caution could have helped, but hat's off to Ty. He done a heck of a job. He did what he had to do. And we did what we had to do to get ourself locked in to tomorrow."
By that time, Williams was into lap traffic and maneuvering his way flawlessly through it, continuing to hold down his large lead.
"The car was so good on entry, I could pretty much put it anywhere coming off," Williams said. "That's one of the best cars I've had here."
Herbert would stay in the runner-up spot the final 10 laps, and Knight eventually would finish third.
"I couldn't believe we went caution-free," Herbert said. "That just goes to show you the caliber of drivers we have out there, that we can run 25 laps out there without a caution."
Keefe Hemel, who started third, stayed consistently in the top four, finishing the first night fourth. Bowman rounded out the top five.
"Tonight's the key, because you have guys like C.J Johnson, Luke Cranston, Mike Peters, J.D. Johnson and about five cars coming that can win this thing from the back," Knight said. "Tonight's very crucial, saves a lot of wear and tear on the car."
The night had a similar feeling for Williams, who won the first night of last year's Wheatshocker nationals before breaking a steering gear during the feature race the second night -- ending his chances at taking the crown.
Heat race winners were Jake Bubak, Williams and Ray Seemann.
The Keizer Aluminum Racing Wheels Hard-Charger award when to Lance Davis, who started 17th and finished eighth.
1. Ty Williams, 2. Brian Herbert, 3. Tyler Knight, 4. Keefe Hemel, 5. Darren Bowman, 6. Jeff Radcliffe, 7. Jake Bubak, 8. Raymond Seemann, 9. Lance Davis, 10. Judd Sheaffer, 11. Jared Kern, 12. Reed Bernbeck, 13. Brian Hardman, 14. Mike Spear, 15. Willie Wynn, 16. Monte Hein, 17. Shawn Radcliffe, 18. Butch Hardman, 19. Tommy Williams (DNS), 20. Kaden Taylor (DNS).