SPOTLIGHT ON SPEED: Jay Bailey
Osage City racer Jay Bailey has worked his way up the ladder in dirt track racing, competing, and winning features, in all four divisions.
Bailey achieved the final piece of that puzzle last Saturday night at Heartland Park Topeka, posting his first HPT Modified feature win in his second season running fulltime in that division. In the process Bailey became the only driver other than Mayetta's Darron Fuqua to post a Modified win this season in Heartland Park's Saturday Showdown Series.
"I started out in a Hobby Stock (now Pure Stock), then went to Factory Stock (now Stock Car), then a B Mod and now an A Mod,'' Bailey said. "I spent a half year in Hobby Stocks and a half year in Factory Stocks and then I said, "Those B Mods look kind of cool,' so we got those. We ran those for two years, maybe three, and then I switched over to A Mods last year, full-time A Mods.''
Bailey said that he was anxious to give the Modified class a try when he made the jump in 2012.
"The thing is, we did all we were going to do in the B Mod deal,'' Bailey said. "It was either move up or be a lifelong member of the B Mod class. I'm not saying that's bad, but I wanted more of a challenge and the next challenge was the A Mods.
"And it's definitely a challenge.''
In 2012 Bailey also served as the car owner for the B Mod driven by former NASCAR Winston Cup driver Terry Bivins.
Bailey said that having a Midwest racing legend as a teammate as he learned the ropes in the Modified division was a benefit.
"You listen to his stories, and a lot of the things he says, they make sense,'' Bailey said. "And there's things that you can apply to a dirt track. I would say that I definitely learned a little bit of stuff from him, especially on setting the cars up.
"The A Mod's totally different but driving them, you've still got to set the car in the corners and I think talking to him about that helped a lot. We're still good friends. I talk to him a lot.''
With last week's win giving him a good dose of momentum, Bailey now wants to parlay that performance into more success over the remainder of the season.
"My first goal was to win a race, and we've done that,'' Bailey said. "My next goal is to finish top five in points. I'm not there yet. I'm sixth right now.''
Fuqua bounced back to win last Saturday's second feature in a double-feature racing night and takes a 19-point lead in the Modified standings into Saturday's race.
Other points leaders include Tecumseh's David Samuels and Edwardsville's Jake Richards, who are tied for the B Mod lead, Topekan Steve Herrick in Stock Car and Topekan Tyler Garst in Pure Stock.
Spectator gates will open at 5 p.m. Saturday, with hot laps at 6:15 and racing at 7 o'clock.
Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children four through 12. Kids aged three and under will be admitted free. Military personnel will be admitted free with identification.