By NICK SCHWIEN
There was nothing but clear, open space in front of Tim Watts for most of the race.
Behind him, though, was Rob Day. And Day was approaching fast after Watts had a comfortable lead most of the race.
But Watts saw Day stick the nose of his car out just enough to realize he needed to pick up the pace, and he did just that en route to winning Saturday night’s modified feature at RPM Speedway in Hays.
“I seen his nose there the last couple laps,” Watts said. “I was just kind of riding right through the middle, thinking I had it covered. Then I seen the nose, and I thought I better get back on the wheel a little bit.”
Watts started on the pole and got the lead on the third lap. Then, he’d start to build a sizable lead.
“It’s always important to get space on any race track,” Watts said. “We’ve been kind of struggling, trying to get our motor combination figured out to help compete with the crates. Everything I had was too much motor. We couldn’t hook it up. So we rebuilt some of our motors, and it was the first time out tonight. I’m happy with it.”
Nate Moore and Jesse Richter swapped the runner-up spot for a few laps as Day finally got his modified rolling.
On lap 11, Day moved into second after starting the feature 11th. Then he closed the gap on Watts.
“I did everything I could think of,” Day said. “And I was gaining on him. It felt good. The race track was awesome.”
With a few laps remaining, Day shot low entering turn three. That gave Watts a glimpse of his challenger.
“I shouldn’t have showed it to him,” Day said. “I should have waited another lap until I had just a little bit more.”
Watts powered out of turn four with a renewed vigor, then stayed up front the rest of the race to take his first feature this season at RPM.
“I was going as hard as I could go,” Watts said. “I started backing out a little bit just thinking I had it pretty well covered and didn’t want to screw it up. Then Rob showed me I had a little competition.”
Day finished second in his first race this season. Richter was third, and David Murray was fourth.
“This is the first race I’ve been in since Vegas last year,” Day said. “I couldn’t hardly hold my head up the last five laps out there.”
• Jason Rogers took the lead in the stock car feature on lap three, then held off strong charges by Nick Tubbs and Jeff Tubbs to win his second feature in Hays this season. Jeff Tubbs was second, followed by Nick Tubbs and Nolan Remus.
• Once Nate Ginest got into the lead on lap three of the Northern sport mod feature, he never looked back. Ginest proved to have everything he needed and more to win his first feature ever at RPM. He pulled away from Tyler Frye on several restarts, leaving Frye to settle for second. Daniel Gottschalk, who cut down a tire on the first lap, rallied from the back to take third, and Blaine Walt was fourth.
• Garrett Hager got by Brady Bencken on lap 10 for the lead in the hobby stock feature and led the rest of the way for his first win in Hays. Ron Wehling was second, followed by Monte Honas and Trevor Schmidt.
• Kiowa Higdon’s win streak reached three in a row in the sport compact class in Hays. He led all 12 laps to earn the win, but was challenged heavily by Dallas Dunn in the final laps. Michael Smith was third, followed by Art Herzog.
• Racing returns to RPM Speedway on June 7 when NASCAR driver Kenny Schrader comes to town to compete with the modifieds. Races for the five regular IMCA classes begin at 7 p.m.