To say it was a struggle moving up to the modified class would be an overstatement.
Instead, Tyler Frye already had began to make a name for himself in the class this year after winning the IMCA Northern sport mod national title last year.
He had an illustrious run in the sport mod division throughout the years, claiming more wins than he had fingers and toes. He was a top driver in the class throughout the nation and one to beat every night he pulled into the pits — no matter what track it was.
But the move to the modified class took a bit to get used to. Even though he hadn’t won a race in eight tries this year — perhaps one of the longest droughts of his career — he had earned several trips to tech lane for top-four finishes.
On Saturday night, though, Frye showcased his driving skill and put his name on the map as one of the top modified drivers in the state — and perhaps the country.
“He’s definitely had pretty good success in the sport mods,” said fellow modified driver Dylan Sherfick. “I knew he was going to be tough coming up into our class. He’s had a pretty good year so far. I think he’s going to be one to contend against, that’s for sure.”
Frye’s move on the final lap of the modified feature helped him to his first win in the class at RPM Speedway and edged Sherfick for the top spot by mere inches.
“I was hoping a couple of cars would jump up there because it was really good,” Frye said about using the high line to work his way from the sixth starting spot. “I’d get it blown off, then it would have stuff all over it again. I knew we were good up there. I thought we had enough to get by (Danny) Morrison up there, but I didn’t think we had enough to get by Sherfick. I was just glad it took off on the backstretch.”
Morrison led the first lap before Sherfick took control and kept a comfortable distance on the field. Settling in behind Morrison was Steven Bowers Jr. and Frye.
“There was enough moisture on the bottom that I could just rotate it good enough,” said Sherfick, who led until the final lap. “I could get a bite. I just stayed down there. I didn’t think with the lead I had it would matter until the caution came out.”
But on lap 19, the caution flew for a spinning car, setting up a one-lap dash for the cash. On the restart, Frye worked around Morrison and spun the tires a bit in corner one.
“My whole idea was to get around the outside of him,” Frye said. “Right in the center, I kind of spun the tires and it pointed me down there. I hadn’t tried that line all night, and I thought I’d try it one time. I just took a leap of faith, and it stuck and got by him. I didn’t know who would get to the line first, but I’m glad I did.”
Frye shot low on Sherfick after getting a good run out of turn two, setting up a battle into the final turn. Frye was able to get below Sherfick entering corner three, then hold him off for the win. It was the first lap of the year Frye had led in a modified feature.
“There was a lot of moisture down there,” Frye said. “That was the only way to get it was to diamond it off like I did. Now I wish I would have done it earlier. I guess it turned out for a nail-biter for the fans anyway.”
“I didn’t think there would be much up there,” Sherfick said. “Sure enough, he kind of snuck underneath me coming out of two and had the position. I kind of figured he’d get a better bite coming off of four, and sure enough, he did. He had a pretty good run.”
Morrison finished third, with Clay Money fourth.
“We thought we had the magic setup on it tonight, but it wasn’t that good,” Frye said. “We’ll go home and get better and get back in two weeks.”
• Eric Cross took the lead from Brady Bencken on the second lap of a caution-filled hobby stock feature. He led the rest of the 20 laps for the win despite being pressured by Garrett Hager the last half of the race. Bencken finished third, with Andrew Burg fourth.
• Chad Sterling led all but the first lap of the stock car feature en route to the win. He was pressured early by Jason Rogers before Sterling began to distance himself. Rogers was second, followed by Jason Davis and Aaron Gray.
• The caution came out early in the Northern sport mod feature, but it came at an inopportune time for Blaine Walt. Walt held the lead until Daniel Gottschalk got by him on the restart, leading the last 15 laps for the win. Walt was second, followed by a hard-charging Dakota Spoul — who started ninth — and Trenton Kleweno — who started 12th.
• Billy Turner kept the top spot in the sport compact feature for the first five laps before Jacob Schwien took the lead. Schwien led the rest of the way for the victory. Randy Murphy was second, followed by Art Herzog and Turner.
• Shaun Woods won a wild cruiser feature that saw only two of the five cars finish the race. Brian Brummer was second, followed by Justin Yarmer and Shane Pfeifer.
• Racing returns to RPM Speedway at 7 p.m. April 23 with the same six classes.