NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Clay Money (7) battles alongside Blaine Walt during a sport mod heat race Sunday night at WaKeeney Speedway.
By NICK SCHWIEN
WaKEENEY -- Maybe if his wife would have told him to run the high side from the start, Blaine Walt wouldn't have made things so close.
The newly married driver was told by his father, Larry, to stay on the upper groove and go to the front. But Walt didn't listen right away.
Instead, the sport mod driver wanted to feel out the bottom of the track.
"Dad told me it was going to be around the top," Walt said. "So I went and messed around on the bottom a little bit. Finally, I thought everyone was kind of in line, so I went to the top and found it. Then I just stuck it up there."
When Walt heeded his father's advice Sunday night -- on Father's Day -- he powered his way to the front en route to his first win at WaKeeney Speedway this season.
"It felt better," Walt said. "Once I went up there, I knew it was better."
Walt played on the bottom of the track for the first three laps as Daniel Gottschalk took the lead. But on lap four, Walt moved up and was inches ahead of Gottschalk for the front spot at the stripe.
He'd pull out to a sizable lead, only to see Clay Money and Trenton Kleweno work their way through the field. After the fourth caution, Money had his chance.
He tried to maneuver the bottom line, pulling slightly ahead of Walt through turn one. But Walt had the power to motor off the top of turn two to secure advantage going down the backstretch.
"I seen him down there a couple times toward the end," Walt said. "It was getting slick at the top in (turns) three and four, and I thought he was going to get me on the bottom. But there just wasn't anything coming off down there."
For the final four laps, that scenario played out over and over again.
"It was just too slick coming out," said Money, who finished second. "Going in, I could get it to stick really good, but coming out it was just too slick."
Kleweno was third, with Gottschalk in fourth.
"That relieves a whole bunch of, well, anything that went bad this year," Walt said. "It seems like, finally, something good happened. By no means do we have it figured out, but we'll come back again."
Walt won the track title at WaKeeney last season. He recently got married to Ryan Zimmerman, and the race was his first after saying "I do."
"Just got married last weekend, so it's a good marriage present," Walt said.
As for the wedding present being the first-place check, Walt wasn't about to fork it all over to his new bride.
"We'll share it," he said, laughing.
* Brian Stich led all 15 laps of the hobby stock feature to claim the win. Eric Ross was second, followed by Colin Heim and Leon Pfannenstiel.
* Monte Honas led from lap five to the finish in the sport compact feature. Kirk Pfannenstiel was second, with Michael Smith third and Ed Jasper fourth.
* Jeff Tubbs won for the third time this season at WaKeeney in the stock car class. Tubbs easily won the feature ahead of B.J. Wagoner, Mark Zorn and Nick Tubbs.
* Nate Moore won the rain-shortened modified feature. Scott Brown was second, with Tim Watts in third and Travis Sherfick in fourth.
* Racing returns to WaKeeney on June 30.