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NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Kaid Calhoon (7c) drives out of turn four during a sport mod A-main event Tuesday night at the IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa.

Area drivers qualify for big show

By NICK SCHWIEN

nschwien@dailynews.net

BOONE, Iowa -- The wait for Kaid Calhoon took nearly an hour.

That long wait, though, was courtesy of a few thousandths of a second on the track.

What made the wait in tech lane more enjoyable was the fact the Beloit driver who regularly competes at RPM Speedway in Hays and WaKeeney Speedway had locked himself in to Saturday night's big show in the sport mod class.

"It hasn't sunk in yet,"  Calhoon said. "It hasn't even begun to sink in yet. I'm sure Saturday, it will start to. I always come up here and watch these guys for the past couple of years, and to think that I'd be one of them is a pretty great feat in my books so far."

Calhoon grabbed the final qualifying spot Tuesday night at the 30th annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa, by fractions of a second. But the eighth-place finish was music to his ears.

"They said top 10 to the (infield),"  Calhoon said. "I got in there, and they didn't have my number even as an alternate. I thought, 'Crap. I'm not even an alternate.' Then they figured out I got eighth. I was running up front the whole time, and it stinks. But I'll take it."

Calhoon won his heat race earlier in the day, locking him in to one of the night's two A-mains -- where the top eight finishers advanced to the big show Saturday night.

He started fourth in the feature and held his ground, running in the front pack for a majority of the early part of the race as caution after caution flew for cars farther back.

Calhoon moved into third on lap four and stayed there through lap 14. He weathered five cautions to hold down the third-place position up to that point.

But on the next restart, Calhoon was bumped from behind -- just as he was for a few restarts earlier by the same driver. This time, Calhoon was forced high in turn one, then was tagged by the same driver coming out of turn two.

The contact killed his momentum, dropping him back to seventh. On lap 16, he dropped to eighth.

"Holy buckets," said Calhoon, who broke in a new car during Monday's opening day. "He was all over me. I was like, 'It's a brand new car. Please stop.' But that's all right."

He didn't panic. Two drivers ahead of him spun out, advancing him into sixth. He'd stay there until the final caution flag flew with two laps remaining.

"All I knew was I was going to ride the high side, because if I came down, something was going to happen,"  Calhoon said. "I've seen that in races (Monday) night, and I knew it was going to be ugly. I knew if I was going to come down, somebody was going to be there. Sure enough, there was. I knew I was racing that guy for another position, but I didn't know it was to make the show here at the very end at the line. It was definitely a boost of confidence right there."

The restart had the field bunched back up, with the leader starting ahead of the double-file field.

Calhoon battled the final two laps for the final qualifying spot, just inching out another driver at the checkered flag for eighth.

It was the first trip to the annual event for Calhoon, who has watched his father, Brian, in past years compete in the modified ranks at Boone. His father made the modified big show in 2003.

"This is an honor,"  Calhoon said. "My dad's done it once. I was glad to do it myself."

Tuesday was a good day for sport mod drivers from Beloit.

After rain pushed back the start of the first day's event by nearly five hours, track officials moved the sport mod Race of Champions heats until the start of Tuesday's show.

Those heats, made up of track champions or drivers who are either first or second in track points throughout the nation, set a special Saturday feature of 10 drivers from the five heats.

Jake Krone, who has all but wrapped up the track crown at RPM this year with one points race remaining, finished second in his ROC heat, qualifying him for Saturday's feature.

"It's a pretty tough field of cars to get into,"  Krone said. "You only have one shot to do it, too. It's not like the A-main (on Saturday) where you have several shots. I'm pretty excited about it."

The top two drivers in each of those heats then went to the stage located near the grandstands to draw cards for starting spots in Saturday's event.

Krone turned his card over and found out he'd be starting inside the second row.

"I really liked that," he said. "I'll take that."

* Along with the sport mods, hobby stocks and sport compacts also competed Tuesday. For a complete list of how area drivers did, visit www.HDNews.net/racing.

* For an in-car camera view of Krone's ROC heat race, visit the HDNracing channel on YouTube.