By Lonnie Wheatley
DODGE CITY, Kan. (July 18) – David Murray Jr. showed exactly why he ranks as a four-time Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified national champion by taking his second Modified Stampede victory in three years Saturday at Dodge City Raceway Park.
Starting from the front row outside, Murray gunned into the lead at the drop of the green flag and paced all 30 circuits to take the $1,200 winner’s share after sweeping through the inaugural version of the event in 2013.
With 36 entries on hand, Murray ran third in his heat and then redrew the front row outside starting position for the main event.
The field was in trouble at that point.
“The top was the place to be, it was fast up there,” the 2016 Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational ballot qualifier said from victory lane. “The bottom looked to be pretty good, too. I saw Cody (Gearhart) down there some early, but I never went down to try it.”
While Murray pounded the top of the track for all 30 laps, several contenders in his wake made some headway on the lower portion of the oval as the race progressed.
Chased by Gearhart and defending Modified Stampede champ Brendon Gemmill through the opening 16 rounds until a quick caution for a turn two tangle, Murray took off again while Gemmill went to work on the low side.
Gemmill made his way past Gearhart briefly on the 24th round, but Gearhart battled right back into second as the laps clicked off.
Murray kept his chasers at bay, racing to the checkered flag with an eight car-length advantage over Gearhart with Gemmill a close third. The most successful at working the low side was Troy Gemmill, who rallied from 15th to snare fourth. Austin Allen rounded out the top five.
While Murray mastered the Modified Stampede, Mike Appel and Dusty Witthuhn both made late moves to win in IMCA SportMods and IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars, respectively, while Will Bauer wired the field in the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock feature.
Feature results – 1. David Murray Jr.; 2. Cody Gearhart; 3. Brendon Gemmill; 4. Troy Gemmill; 5. Austin Allen; 6. Randy Wilson; 7. Kale Beavers; 8. Kyle Rohleder; 9. Clay Sellard; 10. Scott Green; 11. Ryan Heger; 12. Joe Cleveland; 13. Nick Link; 14. Kevin Gray; 15. William Nusser; 16. John Burrow Jr.; 17. Jesse Richter; 18. Brad Keller; 19. Mike Petersilie; 20. Cole Traugott.