By NICK SCHWIEN
Two races Friday night meant a little more than usual to brothers Jeff and Nick Tubbs of Colby.
That's why the two took such delight in a pair of stock car wins in their respective qualifiers during Fall Nationals VI at RPM Speedway in Hays.
It had been a long week for the brothers after their father, Gerald Tubbs Jr., underwent kidney surgery Monday in Denver. Their father had a kidney donated from his daughter, Christie.
While their father normally is at the track each time the boys compete, he was unable to this weekend due to recovery.
“I know my dad and sister out in Denver are watching it on pay-per-view right now,” Jeff said. “So I'm sure my dad's ecstatic.”
Both father and daughter are recovering as expected, and both were watching on an Internet site Friday night as Jeff and Nick won qualifiers.
“He'll be as happy as he can get with two sons in victory lane tonight,” Nick said.
Jeff started the celebration with a victory in the first stock car qualifier, beating Terry Cunningham — last year's Fall Nationals champ —Elijah Zevenbergen and Kyle Vanover to the finish line.
“That was a goal, but just getting in, you have to do that before you can win the big show,” Jeff said about winning the race for his father. “And there were some really good guys in my race. I don't know if we walked away, but we definitely got there.”
The wins gave the brothers an automatic qualifying spot in Saturday's feature event, which pays $3,000 to win.
“This will set me up good for the feature (Saturday) night, hopefully in the front two rows,” Jeff said. “We'll see how it goes from there. If I could just get rid of my brother, we would be fine.”
Jeff will have to deal with his younger brother, who won the track championship at RPM Speedway this year.
Nick started fifth in the second qualifier Friday night and worked his way to the front.
“I've always ran good in the big show, but I've always had to go through the B,” Nick said. “This is the first year where I don't have to do anything until the A-main. Hopefully we can get ourselves a win here. I'm so pumped about this race.”
Nick battled his way to the front in another stacked qualifier, passing national champion Mike Nichols for the win.
“There was a lot of fast cars in there, and I was just trying to see if I could get into the top three and get into the big show,” Nick said. “I found something up top, and it worked. All of a sudden, I had a smile on my face when I was going by a previous national champion and a previous winner of this event.”
Josh Hudson finished third in the heat, followed by Bruce Plumisto.
Neither Tubbs brother ever had won a Fall Nationals qualifier before, and the two victories Friday meant they would be battling it out up front for Saturday night's feature as well — similar to the Flatlanders event in Goodland two weeks ago.
“That would be fine,” Jeff said. “Last week, he took two from me at Flatlanders. We went first and second again.”
“I was hoping they'd line us up by which qualifier we were in and how we'd finish, because that would be me and Jeff starting front row inside and outside,” Nick said. “I was hoping that was going to happen. I guess we'll have to draw for it (Saturday). It was just emotional with my dad and everything. It's been an up and down deal, but everything has been up since he went in and got surgery. Everything is doing great. He's watching it on TV. He called me and told me to do changes on the car while he's in Denver getting recovered.”