NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News David Murray Jr. drives his modified hard into turn one during a heat race Saturday night at RPM Speedway in Hays.
Blaine Walt leads a Northern sport mod heat race Saturday.
By NICK SCHWIEN
It was all in good fun.
Both drivers admitted that.
But when your nickname's the "Iceman," perhaps the fun carries a bit of intimidation as well.
During an early caution Saturday night during the modified feature at RPM Speedway in Hays, David Murray Jr. pulled alongside leader Cody Gearhart.
The four-time IMCA national champion wanted Gearhart to know he was there.
"Cody and I talk a lot, and he said, 'I hope I don't see you tonight,' " Murray said. "I told him, 'Remember: Respect your elders and wait up for me.' When I pulled up beside him, he was probably thinking, 'Oh shoot, he's already here.' So that was kind of fun."
It didn't take long for Murray to get by Gearhart after the caution, then the Oberlin driver rolled to his second win in as many tries at RPM this season.
"I knew he was there. He didn't have to tell me," Gearhart said. "But he drives me clean. I wanted to out-run him. So I was hoping he was coming up there. But, maybe next time. We had a good run, though."
Gearhart, who started outside the front row, led the first five laps before the caution flag flew. By that time, Murray had gone from his 11th-place starting spot to the runner-up position.
That's when the joking began.
"I knew he was coming, there was no doubt," Gearhart said. "I've had him in the heat race the last two weekends in a row. And if there's some moisture, he's hard to beat."
Murray got by Gearhart on the restart, then outlasted the field through three more cautions to claim the win.
"Back that far in the field, things just kind of opened up for us and we were able to make the right moves," Murray said. "Geez, I couldn't believe we were already up to fourth or fifth in the first couple of laps. Everything just broke free to our favor, and we were just there to capitalize on it."
While Murray would pull away for the win, Gearhart found himself in a battle for second. Jerry Phillips pulled behind Gearhart on lap 13 and hounded him the final laps.
"The car felt really good in the middle," Phillips said. "It had a little push. I felt someone on my bumper, and I just kind of played it safe there at the end. I tried to go under Gearhart several different times. I could get under him, but I just couldn't get it pointed straight soon enough. But they're all good racers. Coming out here and not getting a dent in the car is good. You can't do that every place."
Gearhart was able to hold off Phillips for second, and Travis Sherfick finished fourth after starting 10th.
"It's a tough place, a bunch of good cars," Murray said. "I like this place. We normally struggle here, but we found something with this car and it's been working. As the track slicks off a little more and July and August get here, we may have to tune on it a little more. But right now, everything is pretty good."
* Jeromy Wagner started the night with a feature win in the hobby stock class. Cody Graham was second, followed by Aaron Honas and Cody Ghumm. Aaron Gray originally finished fourth but did not pass tech inspection following the race.
* Vincent Jasper led all 12 laps in the sport compact feature to earn the win. Monte Honas was second, followed by Art Herzog and Brandon Lobdell.
* Blaine Walt started outside the front row and took the lead away from pole-sitter Cory Struckhoff on the second lap of the Northern sport mod feature. He led the rest of the way for the win. Jake Krone was second after starting eighth, and Trenton Kleweno continued a strong season with a third-place finish after starting 12th. Struckhoff was fourth.
* Nick Tubbs made the trip from Colby worthwhile, leading all 20 laps in the stock car feature. Pat Bedore was second, while Dustin McClurg was third and Jason Davis fourth.
* Racing returns to RPM Speedway at 7 p.m. Saturday, featuring the regular five classes.