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Beckham Pulls Off Shocker at Wheatshocker Nationals

HAYS, KS — Utter amazement. Pure joy. That was the life of Kasey Beckham after the second day of the fourth annual Wheatshocker Rebel Nationals on Sunday at RPM Speedway in Hays. The two-day show that has become one of the United Rebel Sprint Series signature events with a lofty payout of $2,000 went to a first-time winner in the sprint car series. “This is the biggest win of my career, and I've been racing since I was 7 years old,” the 20-year-old said. Beckham started on the pole for the 30-lap feature and led every lap, with Tyler Knight starting outside the front row and running second the entire time. Knight started on the pole during Saturday night's feature that locked in the top 10 cars for Sunday night and finished second as well, while Beckham started second that night and faded to an eighth-place finish.“I can't believe this, still,” Beckham said. “We've tried so hard on this stuff, and we've had bad luck over and over. Good luck finally hit on a good night.”

Piloting his B3 ride, Beckham jumped to the lead at the drop of the green flag and started to distance himself from the pack, including Knight. He hit his marks on the dry track to perfection and kept his car out front. Knight did close the gap later in the race when the leaders got into lap traffic, but the traffic wasn't heavy or consistent enough to slow down the youngster and keep him from his first career URSS win.

“Honestly, I don't like starting on the pole because when you get into the lead, it's the longest race of your life,” said Beckham, who had raced only five times this year entering the weekend. “Like at Hutchinson. I led it for 22 laps. It's the longest race you'll ever experience. Leading all 30 laps, it's crazy.” Blake Smith Jr. settled into the third spot for the first 10 laps before Brian Herbert made the pass to join the top three on lap 11. Herbert started seventh. Ty Williams was making a move as well after starting ninth, moving into the top five to pressure Smith. The top five would stay Beckham, Knight, Herbert, Smith and Williams until lap 20, when Williams suffered a power steering failure and went off turns three and four and right toward the wall. He was able to slide the car enough to avoid a head on collision with the wall, but his night was done early after he won the feature the previous night.

“That really messes with me,” Beckham said about the cautions. “But the way I am on the track when I have the lead, I act as if they're on my bumper. I never act like I've got a comfortable cushion or anything, because with the URSS, everyone out there belongs in a sprint car. And they're all good.”

Beckham paced the field back to the restart, but Smith spun out in turn three before a lap was complete, ending his night and freezing the field again. But it was opportunistic for C.J. Johnson, who benefitted by moving into fifth after starting 12th by winning one of two B-mains. The cautions also delayed the opportunity for the leaders to get into lap traffic, something that aided Beckham. It also foiled the plans of lap traffic slowing down the front cars by those farther back in the pack.

“We never caught lap traffic,” Johnson said. “The track just kind of rubbered down, and that makes it hard to pass.” Herbert got by Patrick Bourke for third on lap 22, and Johnson got by Bourke — the 2009 Wheatshocker winner — on the next lap to move into fourth. Johnson kept the momentum going, passing Herbert on lap 24 and slowly began to reel in Beckham and Knight. Beckham finally reached lap traffic and was slowed just a bit, allowing Knight to make a final run.

“I wish we could have got him on the first lap, then I think it would have been a different story,” Knight said. “On a track like this when it rubbers up, it's hard to pass. I gave him about the first 15 laps. I was kind of holding back and letting him scorch his tire off a little. Then the caution came out, and everyone backed up. I was hoping to get in traffic. He was starting to get a severe push coming off four. I got a good run a couple times and got up underneath him, but I had to back pedal a little bit and lost a lot of ground. It was just one of those deals.” Knight never could get a good enough run to make the pass, and Beckham slipped away for the big win. Knight was second, followed by Johnson, Herbert and Josh Fairbank — who started eighth.

Johnson had won two of the three Wheatshocker crowns entering the weekend, including last year's race. “No, I hate it,” Johnson said about relinquishing the title, then added jokingly, “especially this year. It's the first year they've given trophies away, and my kids love trophies. We've won it twice, and didn't get a trophy. This year they give a trophy, and we didn't win. (My kids are) mad already. They don't care about the $2,000. They want the trophy.”

Heat race winners were Gavin Stout, Adam Trimble and Judd Sheaffer.

The Keizer Aluminum Racing Wheels Hard Charger award went to Johnson, who moved from 12th to third.

Feature results

1. Kasey Beckham, 2. Tyler Knight, 3. C.J. Johnson, 4. Brian Herbert, 5. Josh Fairbank, 6. Darren Bowman, 7. Patrick Bourke, 8. Adam Trimble, 9. Jeff Radcliffe, 10. Mike Woodruff, 11. Bob Sheaffer, 12. Judd Sheaffer, 13. Barry Crane. 14. Ray Seemann (DNF), 15. Taylor Milton (DNF), 16. Blake Smith Jr. (DNF), 17. Mark Walinder (DNF), 18. Ty Williams (DNF), 19. Zach Blurton (DNF), 20. Kirby Hagans (DNS).

1st B Feature

1. Jeff Radcliffe, 2. Mark Walinder, 3. Judd Sheaffer, 4. Taylor Milton, 5. Mike Woodruff, 6. Keefe Hemel, 7. Jordan Randles, 8. Cody Caldwell, 9. Blake Bogenhagen, 10. Larry Radcliffe, 11. Mike Spear, 12. Kaden Taylor (DNF), 13. Jason Martin (DNF).

2nd B Feature

1. C.J. Johnson, 2. Adam Trimble, 3. Bob Sheaffer, 4. Barry Crane, 5. Zach Blurton, 6. Lance Davis, 7. Gavin Stout, 8. Reed Bernbeck, 9. Dan Brumet, 10. Luke Cranston (DNF), 11. Shawn Radcliffe (DNF), 12. Mike Parker (DNF).


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