By NICK SCHWIEN
WaKEENEY — Zach Blurton knew his 305 sprint car was fast.
Only problem was, he was going to need some help to close the gap between him and the leader.
That help came in the form of lap traffic, and it allowed Blurton to make a crucial pass — twice — for the United Rebel Sprint Series feature victory Sunday night at WaKeeney Speedway.
Series founder Rick Salem, who started outside the front row, bolted to the lead piloting the No. 911 car, a tribute to fallen soldier Christopher Ryan Kruse. Salem would build his lead to a comfortable margin as the action heated up well behind him.
“He was out there a straightaway or so,” Blurton said. “I knew once I got by second place into second, it was just a matter of time. He wasn’t getting through lap traffic very good, and we got around them a lot better. It helped.”
Blurton, who started fourth, moved into the runner-up spot on lap 12 when he passed Zac Taylor. Then he began to close the gap fast on Salem as lap traffic came into play.
Salem had Blurton right on his bumper on lap 17, and Blurton made the pass for the lead coming out of turn four.
But the caution flew for a spinning car, relegating Blurton back behind Salem.
“I knew we had a good car,” Blurton said. “We were catching lap cars better than Rick and the leaders were. We got by him, then the caution came out. So I knew I was going to have to do it all over again, which kind of sucked. But I knew we were good enough to do it. It was just a matter of time as to how long.”
Salem would lead lap 18 before the caution came out again. And on lap 19, Blurton made his move, passing Salem for the lead.
“I knew once I got by him, I could pull away,” Blurton said. “I was holding something back to get around him. I knew once I got by him I would be fine.”
The pass allowed Blurton to pull away and lead the final seven laps.
Salem then was pressured by Taylor and J.D. Johnson, who started ninth. Johnson passed Taylor on lap 23 to move into third, then made the pass on Salem going into turn three on the final lap to finish second.
“He just missed his line a little bit in one and two, and that got us next to him,” Johnson said. “At that point, we had been fortunate we had been in that spot before. I knew it would stick on the bottom so I could drive it in pretty good. It stuck, and we got around him.”
Taylor also got around Salem as he slid high in turns three and four when Johnson made the pass. Salem would finish fourth.
But the night belonged to Blurton, who notched his first URSS win this year.
“This is awesome,” said Blurton, who became the fourth winner in four URSS races this season. “Everybody is here. My mom and sister are here. That’s pretty cool. My brother-in-law is here. My girlfriend and all here family is here. It’s cool. And Jon Johnson and his motors, he ran 1-2 tonight. It shows a shop-built motor can still win.”
URSS feature results
1. Zach Blurton, 2. J.D. Johnson, 3. Zac Taylor, 4. Rick Salem, 5. Ray Seemann, 6. Steven Richardson, 7. Tyler Knight, 8. Jared Kern, 9. Jake Bubak, 10. Brian Herbert, 11. John Webster, 12. Luke Cranston, 13. Kade Hagans, 14. Jed Werner, 15. Kaden Taylor, 16. Jeremy Huish, 17. Kris Moore, 18. Brandon Sprott, 19. Shawn Radcliffe (DNF), 20. Jeff Radcliffe (DNF), 21. C.J. Johnson (DNS).
• Kiowa Higdon won his second race of the weekend Sunday night in the sport compact class. Higdon, who won a night earlier at RPM Speedway in Hays, led all five laps of the feature that was shortened due to the time limit. Kirk Pfannenstiel was second, followed by Michael Smith and Brandon Lobdell.
• Cody Graham was a rocket on the restarts, and that propelled him to the win in the hobby stock class. Garrett Hager was second, and Adam Armstrong was third. Daniel Irwin finished fourth.
• Clay Money survived a caution-filled Northern sport mod feature to reach the winner’s circle. Trenton Kleweno was second. Daniel Gottschalk and Willie Wynn rounded out tech lane.
• Angel Munoz led all 20 laps of the stock car feature. Jason Rogers was second, followed by Jason Davis and Jeff Tubbs.
• Nate Moore brought home the win in the modified feature by holding off Kyle Rohleder. Jason Schoenberger was third, with Dylan Sherfick fourth.
• Racing returns to WaKeeney Speedway at 6:30 p.m. today for the second day of the annual Memorial Day races.