Stories

NICK SCHWIEN â ¢ Hays Daily News Pat Bedore (99B) battles B.J. Wagoner (51W) during a stock car heat race June 15 at RPM Speedway in Hays.

NICK SCHWIEN â ¢ Hays Daily News Pat Bedore (99B) battles B.J. Wagoner (51W) during a stock car heat race June 15 at RPM Speedway in Hays.

Wagoner doesn't follow leader, wins at Goodland

By NICK SCHWIEN

nschwien@dailynews.net

He could see it in his mind well before the race began.

And B.J. Wagoner was more than pleased it played out like he wanted it to Saturday night at Sherman County Speedway in Goodland.

Wagoner, from Colby, earlier had stopped by the shop of his friend, Bruce Plumisto. The stock car driver knew in order for him to get a win, he'd have to take a few more chances the next race.

"That was the first thing I thought to myself,"  Wagoner said. "I went to Bruce's shop in town, and we're all good friends. Me and Bruce are more apt to get in line and follow the leader than push the issue. I told him I wasn't going to follow somebody around and let them win it. I knew with four to go I wasn't going to be running the same line as the leader."

He didn't, and it proved to be the winning combination he needed to get by fellow Colby driver Jeff Tubbs for the win.

"We'd been running well, just finished second like three times and third four times," Wagoner said. "I wasn't sure if I would get one. It was a really, really good race."

Wagoner, now in his fifth full season in the IMCA stock car class, has battled side-by-side with other drivers at multiple tracks this season as the stock class has seen in influx of cars this year. With that influx, though, has come even more drivers who are capable of winning each night.

Several of those hail from Colby, which quickly is becoming the stock car capital of Kansas. Along with Wagoner and Tubbs, there's also Nick Tubbs -- Jeff's younger brother who nearly won a national championship last year in the division -- Michael Meyer, Plumisto and Wheat Lippelman. Jason Rogers, another salty driver from nearby Selden, is proving tough to beat again.

Saturday night, though, belonged to Wagoner -- although the victory almost slipped away.

Jeff Tubbs got by him near the end of the feature and could have grabbed the win again. But Wagoner wasn't going to follow the leader.

"He passed me with four or five to go," Wagoner said. "We raced side-by-side for a couple laps. ... At Goodland, they show you when there's two to go. I knew we were at the end. I went back to the line I was driving earlier. I wasn't going to follow him. We got together a little bit off (turn) two the last lap. I drove into three a little hard and got him out of the groove."

It proved to be the advantage Wagoner needed to edge his good friend at the line. But Tubbs wasn't going to let the winner off easy.

"He's probably my best friend,"  Wagoner said. "He's probably disappointed. He thinks he gave it to me. I think I ran pretty hard to get the win."

"We had a real good race," Tubbs said. "I gave him one. I worked for 15 laps to get around him. ... It was inch by inch by inch, then finally got by him. Then I drove like a Sally. He leaned on me a little, just enough to get me by half a car length at the checkers."

What's a little ribbing between good friends, right?

"I told him, 'My little B.J. is starting to grow up,' " Tubbs joked about Wagoner being aggressive to get the win.

"I'm glad to be able to run with somebody like that," Wagoner said.

Wagoner and Tubbs are expecting to compete this weekend at RPM Speedway in Hays and WaKeeney Speedway. Races begin at 7 p.m. Saturday in Hays and 6:30 p.m. Sunday in WaKeeney.