Sometimes racing comes down to capitalizing on mistakes.
But when you’re behind a seasoned veteran who has made a name for himself throughout the country, seeing a miscue in front of you isn’t likely to happen.
That was the scenario Jordan Grabouski found himself in Friday night during the first day of the fourth annual Sunflower Classic at RPM Speedway in Hays.
Only thing was, Jesse Sobbing — the leader at the time — missed his line by inches late in the race, allowing Grabouski the opportunity to put the nose of his modified down low and sneak into the lead. The move led to the win for the former Fall Nationals champion.
“He had a good line, and he was rolling the middle,” Grabouski said. “He just messed up one time getting into three, and I had to take advantage of it. We just had a good car, and it was fun to race up front.”
Dominic Ursetta led the first 12 laps before Sobbing took the lead in a talented field of drivers. Grabouski got by Ursetta into second on lap 18 of the 25-lap feature.
But on lap 22, Sobbing entered turn three a bit high, allowing Grabouski to maneuver his car in the low line and power ahead for the lead.
“I just hit it right and got on the traction,” Grabouski said. “If I would drive the crap out of the thing in three and four and slow down in one and two, I was better. Then I’d find myself overdriving one and two and underdriving three and four. There was times I would guess, and I wasn’t smooth. I didn’t feel smooth at all, but we got it done.”
With two laps remaining, though, the caution flew.
“I seen the white flag, and I was happy,” Grabouski said. “I was in a rhythm there. I kinda got rolling. Then I saw the yellow and thought, ‘Man, what can I do?’ Anything can happen — getting into one, overdriving it. It’s always fun.”
Grabouski was able to hold off Sobbing and a hard-charging Tyler Frye, last year’s IMCA Northern sport mod national champion, for the win.
Frye, who started 15th, used a higher line than the rest of the field and picked off driver after driver.
“I get tired of that follow-the-leader stuff,” Frye said. “I don’t know why the middle was as good as it was because it was just black-slick. I think our car just fit the middle better. We were too tight for the bottom. It worked around the middle, so I stuck it out there.”
It was only the third night in a modified for Frye, a former multiple track champ at RPM.
“When you look at the cars that you actually outran, some of the best cars around are here,” Frye said. “It’s the best in the area. Plus you have the best from North Dakota and Jesse Sobbing with the USMTS. It’s unreal to me to be standing here right now.”
Sobbing held on for third, and Ursetta finished fourth. Dylan Sherfick finished fifth.
“It’s been really good to me, and that’s why we enjoy coming here,” Grabouski said about RPM. “It’s fun. It’s always fun when you can win. … The biggest thing is getting through the heat race so you can get a good redraw.”
• Mike Nichols started 15th in the stock car feature and worked his way to the front of the pack. Justin Bussell led the first 22 laps of the race, only to spin in corner one with three to go. That gave Nichols all the help he needed to take the lead and another win at RPM. Casey Woken was second, followed by Cory Dumpert and Angel Munoz — who started 22nd.
• Dustin Daniels took the lead on lap three of the sport mod feature and led the rest of the way. Ryan Moser was second, followed by Trenton Kleweno and Blaine Walt.
• Cody Graham and Garrett Hager staged an epic battle for the lead for several laps in the hobby stock feature before Hager took control on lap nine. The two remained close the rest of the way, but Graham never was able to get by Hager for the win. Andrew Burg, who started 20th, finished third, with Tyrel Smith fourth.
• Scott Spellmeier dominated a caution-filled sport compact feature. Billy Turner finished second, followed by David Norquest and Brooke Russell.
• The second night of the Sunflower Classic was scheduled for Saturday night.