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After years of working on other people's cars, David Samuels decided he wanted to race his own.

Three seasons later, Samuels is challenging for his first championship in the Factory Stock class at Heartland Park Topeka.

"This is the start of my third season driving,'' Samuels said, "but I've been involved with racing for 20 years now."

"I've pit-crewed for different people through the years. I was with (Sprint Car driver) Chad Meinholdt for nine years and Rusty Hilderman, Gary Jellison and Jeff Atkinson over the years -- good guys, good clean racers.''

But the 35-year-old Topekan always wondered what it would be like to compete himself.

"When I was 32 years old I finally had made enough money to go out and do it myself,'' Samuels said. "I always had the itch, but I was just trying to put all the resources together and everything."

"I built this car myself with help from a few friends. Meinholdt Welding and Machine Shop and some other friends helped me out on it.''

So far racing has been everything Samuels hoped it would be.

"It's been everything and then some,'' he said. "What we have out here is a big family of racers.''

Samuels went into Saturday night's race with a slim 12-point lead in the Factory Stock standings before finishing 10th in the 'A' main.

Samuels is very happy with his position thus far.

"This year's been a pretty phenomenal little start for the stock car,'' said Samuels, who works in the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad machine shop. "I'm really looking forward to battling with these guys.''

Samuels wouldn't mind eventually moving up in class, but he is in no hurry to leave Factory Stock.

"I'm looking at a Modified of some kind in the next year or couple of years, but I enjoy racing with my fellow Factory Stock brothers and we're having a good time,'' he said. "We're just going to kind of see what happens. I've got to talk to a few potential sponsors to make that move.''

And while it's been a good year for Samuels on the track, it's been even better off of it.

"This winter we were so blessed,'' he said. "My wife and I got to adopt a little girl (Grace Elizabeth) out of Wichita and that's been the best thing that's happened to me ever. She's the light of my life and everything I think about -- '09 has been awesome.''

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