NICK SCHWIEN â ¢ Hays Daily News Kyle Rohleder takes the low line around turns three and four as Travis Sherfick goes high during a modified heat race Sunday at WaKeeney Speedway.
NICK SCHWIEN â ¢ Hays Daily News Cody Graham drives his hobby stock into turn three during a heat race Sunday at WaKeeney Speedway.
By NICK SCHWIEN
WaKEENEY -- There wasn't a moment when Kyle Rohleder got out of his car, jumped up and down on its roof and sprayed champagne everywhere.
Instead, the modified driver from WaKeeney remained humble and quiet.
The smile on his face, though, spoke volumes.
"Don't get me wrong. Everyone has their lows," Rohleder said. "It seems like when things get bad, things keep compacting and keep compacting. It takes that one breakthrough to kind of get the monkey off your back. I think we did that finally."
Rohleder has done that the final three races this season at WaKeeney Speedway. On Sunday night, he won his second in a row at the track's season finale.
"It's just one of those things that when you do it long enough, by God, things are going to go your way eventually if you just keep plugging away at it," he said. "That's how I look at it every week. As long as we keep working during the week to get better, there's no reason why we can't always be competitive."
It started three races ago Aug. 11. That night, Rohleder led most of the race, only to spin his car in the waning laps to avoid a lapped car that slid out of its groove.
He finished 15th that night as Travis Sherfick took the win. Still, Rohleder knew he had stumbled onto something good.
On Aug. 25, Rohleder drove his No. 0 GRT chassis to the front and stayed there, winning convincingly.
"I drove every lap like it was my last," Rohleder said. "From two races ago when Travis got around me when we ran into lap traffic, I always know Travis is good. Everyone's good. I know that if I take just a half-second break, then somebody is coming. The competition is just so good."
Rohleder, through the first seven races at his hometown track, had averaged an eighth-place finish each night. His best outing in that stretch came June 30, when he was fourth.
"Honestly, we finally just hit something with this car that is just comfortable," Rohleder said. "This GRT is the trick. I wish I would have had this four years ago."
Rohleder started eighth and moved to third by the third lap. He passed Wheat Lippelman on lap six and ran down leader Scott Brown -- making the pass for the lead on lap 11.
"Same thing as last time," Rohleder said. "Once I got going and knew I had a pretty good car, I was just worried I was going to run out of laps. This is pretty awesome, though."
Once he was in the lead, he never was challenge. Even a caution with four laps remaining didn't allow his pursuers a chance.
It did help Nate Moore, though, who would get by Brown on the restart to finish second. Brown was third, with Sherfick fourth.
Sherfick won the modified track title over his brother, Dylan.
"Lucky, I guess," Sherfick said about the title. "We've had an alright year, not as good as in the past. But we've stayed in the top four a lot this year, and that's a win in itself. That's worth something. Me and little brother came into tonight No. 1 and 2 and a few points between us. We knew it was going to be somebody. There wasn't a whole lot talked about that whole situation."
* Kirk Pfannenstiel was tied with Michael Smith entering the night for the sport compact title. Pfannenstiel started seventh, while Smith started sixth. Pfannenstiel made is way to the front, taking the lead when Monte Honas came to a stop in turn four. It was his first win at WaKeeney this season, and it secured the title for the Hays High School student. Tanner Chapin was second, with Brandon Lobdell in third and Smith in fourth.
* Cody Graham suffered damage from a lap car trying to exit the track after lap seven but was able to come back out and finish 10th to win the hobby stock title. Colin Heim got his second feature win at WaKeeney, with Garrett Hager second -- and second in points. Ron Wehling was third, and Leon Pfannenstiel was fourth.
* When Blaine Walt couldn't start the Northern sport mod feature due to a transmission issue, the track title was up for grabs. Walt had a slim lead entering the night. That allowed an eighth-place finish by Chris Heim to help him win the title, followed closely by Clay Money. Tyler Watts won the feature -- his first victory -- with Clay Sellard second. Dustin Daniels and Mike Appel rounded out the top four.
* Colby's Jeff Tubbs had the stock car title wrapped up by simple signing in to race Sunday. His large lead didn't keep him from putting the hammer down and finishing the feature third. B.J. Wagoner won the race after starting sixth and bolting to the front. He took the lead from Shannon Maughlin on lap four and led the rest of the way. Maughlin was second, and Bruce Plumisto was fourth.