NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Chris Heim, Hoxie, pilots his modified during a heat race Sunday at WaKeeney Speedway.
Shannon Maughlin gets into the back of Michael Pepper as his stock car slows on the front stretch.
By NICK SCHWIEN
WaKEENEY -- The 2013 season for Jeff Tubbs was one of the most impressive any driver has ever put together in IMCA history.
The stock car driver from Colby tallied four track championships, a series championship and a state title as well. That list of accomplishments puts him near the top of the most-decorated drivers list for a single season.
But that was last year, and this year started off in a heap. Tubbs finished eighth and ninth at the two-day, season-opening Sunflower Classic at RPM Speedway in Hays.
It seemed his luck had run out, something fellow drivers ribbed him about in the form of a golden horseshoe last year.
That was before Tubbs got right with his car, and now he's rolling again. Tubbs picked up his third consecutive win Sunday at WaKeeney Speedway, and his fifth win this year.
"Apparently it hasn't fallen out," Tubbs said about the fabled golden horseshoe. "It did the first two weekends, then I found it at my house and shoved it right back up there -- and we're going again."
Tubbs has hopped aboard the success train, having won five of his last six races. He was third Saturday night at Goodland's Sherman County Speedway.
"We've got five wins on the season already, and we've only ran eight races," Tubbs said. "Things are clicking really good. (Saturday) night, we had a real good shot of winning one, too. We'll just stay on this train while we're on it."
Sunday's win wasn't easy. That came courtesy of Jason Davis and Shannon Maughlin. Both hounded Tubbs lap after lap.
Davis led the first lap, only to see Tubbs sneak by him for the front spot after starting 10th and avoiding a melee after the drop of the green flag that ended several contenders' night early.
"I wasn't expecting the dogfight I got," Tubbs said. "I hate getting up front that early, that quick, because you don't know what they're finding. I could hear them, but I got there first. I knew they were there, but I knew if I just slowed down and hit my marks, it was going to be a hell of a race. I kept pushing that cushion farther and farther, so I should have known to back her down a little bit."
Nick Tubbs, Jeff's younger brother, was in the battle as well for the first six laps before getting too high coming out of turn two and sliding off the top of the track. That pushed him all the way back to 10th.
It allowed Maughlin to slide into the third-place spot, and he set his eyes on Tubbs and Davis.
On lap 14, the top three drivers were bumper-to-bumper, and on lap six, Davis edged by Tubbs on the backstretch for a slim margin when Tubbs got a bit high.
"When me and him got together, I thought, 'Oh, (shoot),' " Tubbs said. "I was hoping me or him didn't get turned around or get a flat tire and cost us both. Davis is a real clean racer. Luckily, where we race, all these guys are all clean racers. He could have dirtied me up for that win, and I appreciate that he didn't."
Tubbs rallied to lead the lap at the flagstand, though, then held off Davis and Maughlin the final circuits for the win.
"I started seeing his nose, and then I realized I had to start crouching down in the corner and start protecting. Then once you get down, maybe slide up to the cushion. By that time, that cushion was basically worn out. There was not much up there. It was just trying to protect and hold on until the checkers."
Tyler Hahn rounded out the top four, and Nick Tubbs came back to take fifth.
* The Northern sport mod feature came down to Brian Conness and Daniel Gottschalk. When Conness took away Gottschalk's line entering turn three on the final lap, Gottschalk shot low and pulled off a slide-job, holding off Conness for the win. Conness led all but the final two turns of the 15-lap feature. Trenton Kleweno was third, followed by Blaine Walt.
* Cody Graham got his first hobby-stock win this season, taking the lead from Monte Honas on lap six and leading the rest of the race. Garrett Hager, last week's winner, was second, with Honas third and Colin Heim fourth.
* Kirk Pfannenstiel led all 10 laps of the sport compact feature. Kiowa Higdon was second, and Art Herzog was third. Michael Smith was fourth.
* Chris Heim picked up his first career modified feature win by leading all 20 laps. A battle between Clay Sellard and Travis Sherfick allowed Heim to increase his lead as the laps wore on, and that battle allowed Kyle Rohleder to enter the mix, too. Rohleder would sneak by Sherfick on the final lap to finish second, with Sherfick third. Sellard was fourth.
* Action returns to WaKeeney Speedway for the two-day Memorial Day races May 25 and 26.