Bad draw, strong finish for Tubbs
By NICK SCHWIEN
BOONE, Iowa -- There was plenty of time for Jeff Tubbs to think about what might happen at this year's 31st annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone.
The miles ticked away and the hours piled up as the stock car driver, his family and crew made their way from Colby earlier this week.
He'd never had the greatest luck in Iowa, usually drawing poorly and starting deep in his heat races and failing to make the elusive main event Saturday night.
This year when he checked in for the stock car races Wednesday, his drawing luck was just as poor as it was in the past.
That left Tubbs starting ninth -- the last position -- in his heat. It didn't faze him, though, and he worked his way through the field to finish second, qualifying for one of two features later in the night.
Then he drew the 11th spoon, the best a second-place heat finisher could draw.
"You always think when you leave Colby, 'Just maybe. Just maybe,' " he said. "But after the heat race, it really set in that, 'Hey, we've really got something for them. We went from ninth to second. We have a shot at this deal.' It just takes a lot of luck, and luckily it's on my side right now."
Tubbs moved up seven spots in the qualifier, grabbing the final transfer spot to Saturday night's big show.
It's the first time in his many trips to Super Nationals that he's qualified for the main event.
"This has just been an amazing year," Tubbs said. "Everything we've touched turned to gold. Nothing was given to us up here. ... It took a little bit of luck, but we made it. Who cares?"
Tubbs did need a little luck in the A-main. He suffered body damage on the right side of his car in two early accidents that could have ended his night before the halfway point of the race. The frame of his car could be seen on the right side, and he even lost a rear panel.
But he never lost any positions and kept his foot on the gas.
With 12 laps to go, he had moved up to seventh. On lap 16 of the 25-lap feature, he maneuvered to third. He dropped one spot on the next lap, but no more.
After crossing the scales and unbuckling, he slid out of his car, pounded on the roof and pointed to the stands where his family was watching and cheering.
"It's just unreal," Tubbs said. "And to top it all off, my family is here. My dad's here. My mom's here. My sister's here. And now we have a whole group coming. That's just awesome."
Tubbs won the track title at Thomas County Speedway in Colby earlier this season, and he has a large lead with one race remaining each at RPM Speedway in Hays and WaKeeney Speedway.
To top that, he won the Dirt Track Central Great Plains Stock Car Series, a special 10-race event featuring some of the Midwest's best drivers. And he has a shot at winning another track crown at Sherman County Speedway in Goodland.
But none of this season's wins topped what he accomplished Wednesday.
"To have all that in the same year -- and this -- that's incredible," he said. "It takes a lot of help from crew, sponsors and friends."