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Williams Boosts Confidence with Day 1 Wheatshocker Win

HAYS, KS — Ty Williams was strong on the United Rebel Sprint Series circuit a year ago. In fact, he was dominant at times en route to winning the national championship in the series. But in the few races he had competed in this season, the Liberal driver had struggled — until Saturday night. Williams worked his way through the field to win the first night  of the fourth annual Wheatshocker Rebel Nationals at RPM Speedway in Hays in front of a large crowd.

“I'm sitting here questioning myself and questioning spending all this money going racing,” Williams said. “ … This is huge. Anytime you can go out and do well, it helps your confidence. That's about 80 percent of racing.”

The top 10 from Saturday night's feature locked in to Sunday night's A-main, which pays $2,000 to win and $200 to start. That's a lofty payout for the drivers on the URSS, and that helped bring 36 cars through the pit gate to compete. Even more were expected for Sunday's show.

Tyler Knight started on the pole, alongside Kasey Beckham. Knight jumped to the early lead, while Taylor Milton — who started third — dropped in behind him, followed by Beckham. The top three would stay that way until a caution on lap five, when Keefe Hemel spun in turn four in a cloud of dust. That aided the field after Knight had jumped out to a comfortable lead.

“I knew they were coming,” Knight said. “Before the caution, I couldn't hear anybody. Then I heard them trying to get up there. I was going to go about two more laps, then I was going to go up there, too.  I knew I had them by a few car lengths before the caution, and I just wanted to see if I could stretch it out there a little bit and ease up to the top. We were a little too tight to start the race out.”

On the restart, Milton got by Knight and into the lead, followed by Beckham and Williams, who restarted in sixth. “I knew it was going to take a caution,” Williams said. On lap nine, Williams would get by Knight and move into second, slowly closing the gap on Milton. And on lap 11, Jeff Radcliffe and Mike Woodruff would bring out the caution flag in turn one, bunching up the field a final time. That left Milton pacing the field back to the green, followed by Williams, Knight, Kirby Hagans and Beckham. Williams got by Milton after the restart, taking the lead on lap 12 as Brian Herbert moved into the top six as well.

“I found something about a lap before that,” Williams said. “I just had to go where they weren't, and I learned that at this track because C.J. Johnson showed me that a few years ago. … But the restart was key because we started getting one lane. You had to wait for somebody to mess up, just like Taylor did when he got sideways.” Williams slowly would increase his advantage ahead of Milton and Knight as Herbert jumped by Beckham into fifth on lap 13. On the next lap, Herbert got by Hagans into fourth.

“I think I was just irritated from the B feature, having to run it,” said Herbert, who won one of two B-mains to reach the feature and started 12th. “Then starting back there, they watered the top, and I thought it felt like there was something there so we were just going to drive it up there. If it will stick, we'll drive it up there. And it stuck every lap. It started taking a little rubber coming off four there. You had to be right on the top, right on the edge.”

The top four would remain that way until Milton went off on lap 20 with an overheating engine. That bumped Knight up to second and Herbert, who was making quick work closing the gap on the front-runners, into third. That also bumped Darren Bowman into the top four. Knight would reel in Williams when the two encountered lap traffic, but last year's national champ had just enough to hold on for the win — his first of the season. Knight finished second, followed by Herbert in third, Bowman in fourth and Patrick Bourke in fifth.

Ray Seemann, Hagans, Beckham, Josh Fairbank — who started 17th in the feature and last in his B-main before working his way up the pack to make the A-main — and Blake Smith rounded out the top 10 and locked in to Sunday's feature.

“Getting locked into the top 10 for Sunday's race, that's almost a win in itself,” Herbert said. “You don't have to worry about running through the heat races and last-chance qualifiers. You can kind of relax and watch and see what the track's going to do. You can be a little more cautious on your set-up, rather than trying to have to race your way into it. That definitely helps.”

Heat race winners were Zach Blurton, Knight, Williams, Seemann and Mark Walinder.

Herbert won the Keizer Aluminum Racing Wheels Hard Charger award, going from 12th to third.

Feature results (Top 10 locked into Sunday's feature)

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

1st B Feature

1. Kaden Taylor, 2. Patrick Bourke, 3. Keefe Hemel, 4. Josh Fairbank, 5. Mike Woodruff, 6. Blake Bogenhagen, 7. Gavin Stout, 8. Tim Perkins, 9. Lance Davis, 10. Mike Spear, 11. Craig Jecha, 12. Steve Dalton, 13. Jordan Randles (DNS).

2nd B Feature

1. Brian Herbert, 2. Adam Trimble, 3. Jeff Radcliffe, 4. Blake Smith, 5. Barry Crane, 6. John Webster, 7. Judd Sheaffer, 8. Mike Parker, 9. Cody Caldwell, 10. Dan Brummet, 11. Reed Bernbeck, 12. Shawn Radcliffe, 13. Larry Radcliffe (DNS).

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