Everything considered, Robert Humphreys and Al Goss might have been happy just to make it to the finish line. As it turned out, both finished under the checker flag in their respective Legends and Late Model Sportsman feature races at Champion Speedway on Saturday night.
Humphreys finished his first race of the season and won his first main event ever in what has developed into a highly-competitive Legends division. Meanwhile, Goss limped to the finish with a flat tire but still won his third Sportsman feature race in four outings this season.
Kim Robbins also remained undefeated in the Hornets class, winning her fifth straight main event to round out a limited program on a mild summer night at the Carson City track.
It truly was a special occasion for Humphreys, as the 37-year-old Sun Valley driver won his first main event in front of a crowd that included two good friends from his early racing days - Darrel Krentz and Gary Nevers.
"It was a good night to win in front of Darrel and Gary, those are guys who helped me when I first started," said Humphreys, who began racing Pure Stocks more than 13 years ago. "Gary put together my first race car when I was out here."
Krentz is a familiar racing name at the Carson City track in the 1970s and '80s who now serves as INEX Executive Director in Harrisburg, N.C. He was in town for Carson High's graduation and was on hand to watch the races later in the evening - and was the first one on the track to congratulate Humphreys after the race.
Humphreys, who has battled with some bad luck through the early part of this season, had his No. 19 running in top form all night. He qualified with the second fast time of 14.72 seconds - behind only the 14.69 posted by Mackena Bell for her third fast time of the season - and he finished third in the trophy dash behind Chris Handley and Denny Hadler.
"We were second fast time and we were the fast car in all the hot lap sessions, so it's definitely a good car. My crew did a great job, and the Huberts were the ones who helped set the car up. They came over and told us what changes to make, so I definitely owe them a big thank you," Humphreys said, referring to the team of Michael Hubert III that won the California Sprint Cars feature race at Champion on May 28.
Humphreys used an inside move on a restart to take the lead midway through the 40-lap race. There were still some anxious moments before the finish, he pointed out.
"The collector came off at the end of my exhaust ... that changed the sound of the car drastically," Humphreys said. "That disrupted my rhythm for a while before I finally figured out what was going on. I was worried the motor was blowing - I was thinking, 'Oh no, this can't be happening to me when I'm winning."
Once out front, he was obviously determined to stay there.
"I just wasn't going to give up the bottom at that point," Humphreys said. "If somebody wanted to get past me, they were going to have to go up on top. I wasn't going to make it easy for them."
Terry Madjeski finished second, ahead of Bobby Hodges, Gary Hale and Jack Randall. Madjeski also finished third in the previous week's main event, while Hodges rebounded from an end-over-end crash on the homestretch that sent him to the pits after just 17 laps.
Humphreys is the fourth different driver in five races to win a main event in the competitive Legends class - joining Hadler (two-time winner), Bell and Jim Klopp.
After experiencing some tough luck the week before, Goss was back in a winning groove in the Sportsman competition.
"Last week, I couldn't catch a break," said Goss, who settled for fifth-place in a race won by Joel Worley. "Tonight, the car was perfect all the way through. Winning the trophy dash and heat race really got me in a groove."
Goss, who is bidding to win his third straight Sportsman season championship and fourth in five years, did have some moments of concern late in the 40-lap main event when his car began to run noticeably slower.
"With about five laps to go, I noticed the car started to slow down and it kept getting worse and worse," Goss said. "This was the fourth race for these tires and I thought they were shot."
Instead, Goss had a flat right front tire, yet he still managed to hold off Vince Malone, Chet Danburg and Worley at the finish. This marked Malone's second runner-up finish in as many weeks.
"I was glad when I saw it was just that," Goss said, pointing to the flat tire. "It got pretty close out there, too. They were right there with me at the end. I pretty much blocked Vince on the last lap. You just do whatever it takes."
Goss added a word of thanks to his sponsor, Ceramic Tire Center, and Quicksilver teammates Ed Goss, Dave Korhummel and Danburg.
In the Hornet class, Robbins continued her season-long domination as she won the 25-lap main event. She also posted fast time of 16.62 and won her heat race. Sandy Clark, who dipped under 17 seconds in qualifying (16.90) finished as the runner-up for the second week in a row.
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.
Main event (40 laps): 1, Robert Humphreys; 2, Terry Madjeski; 3, Bobby Hodges; 4, Gary Hale; 5, Jack Randall; 6, Jason Anderline; 7, Lester Mitchell; 8, Charlene Baron; 9, Rebecca Parmelee, 10, Mackena Bell (39 laps); 11, Denny Hadler (36 laps); 12, Howard Hammer (30 laps).
First heat: 1, Fred Handley; 2, Chris Handley; 3, Derek Copeland; 4, Randall.
Second heat: 1, Hadler; 2, Hale, 3, Bell, 4, Hammer.
Trophy dash: 1, Chris Handley, 2, Hadler, 3, Humphreys, 4, Bell.
Fast time: Bell 14.69.
LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN
Main event (40 laps): 1, Al Goss; 2, Vince Malone; 3, Chet Danburg; 4, Joel Worley; 5, Ed Goss; 6, Christina Davis; 7, Henry Hodges; 8, Chris Betz, 9, Dave Korhummel; 10, Bud Tackett.
First heat: 1, Danburg, 2, Malone, 3, Davis, 4, Betz.
Second heat: 1, Al Goss, 2, Worley, 3, Ed Goss, 4, Hodges.
Trophy dash: 1, Al Goss, 2, Malone, 3, Danburg, 4, Worley.
Fast time: Worley 14.29.
Main event (25 laps): 1, Kim Robbins; 2, Sandy Clark; 3, Chris Dowell; 4; Greg Schmidt; 5, Stephanie Crawford; 6, Andy McCool; 7, Jason Flores (24 laps); 8, No. 33 (24 laps); 9, Tiffany Mans (24 laps); 10, Bill Walton (24 laps).
First heat: 1, Sandy Clark; 2, Jason Bilek; 3, Harris Heller; 4, Bill Holbert.
Second heat: 1, Robbins; 2, McCool; 3, Schmidt; 4, Flores.
Trophy dash: 1, McCool, 2, Schmidt, 3, Clark, 4, Heller.
Fast time: Robbins 16.62.