MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

July 19, 2013

Fast start has escaped Hulbert driver — until now

Kreg Dobson is one of those textbook examples of a guy taking what he has and making the most of it.

The 24-year-old Hulbert driver has had his share of obstacles on the dirt track circuit, from financial hardship to an aged car. But he’s put together a successful run in 2013, topping two divisions at Outlaw Motorsports Park.

One of those was in the 360 Modified division that was dropped at Outlaw, but not before he collected four checkered flags. He has four more wins in IMCA Modified. the last coming on Saturday, and leads that division with 425 points. Danny Womack of Bixby is second and a considerable distance back in third is Henryetta’s Shannon Scott at 264. A weekly win is worth 40 points.

“They’ve told me I’m the 360 Modified champ because we’re done with that,” he said. “I’d like to win me another.”

He’s held “another” the last six weeks in what is shaping up as a two-car race.

Also, three other wins came at Thunderbird Speedway, which has suspended its weekly races. Dobson would be the champ there if they’d named one.

It’s definitely been a breakout year for Dobson, and mostly because it’s been a full year of racing. The past two seasons, he started late, competing in the final 10 races of each season.

He’s been racing Modifieds since he turned 16 and did so for a couple years before his father got sick and ended up losing his Muskogee automotive business, Dobson said.

The financial pinch put the brakes on Dobson’s racing.

“I tried to run the business for him when he was down and just couldn’t,” he said. “That and just the state of the economy itself took its toll. Racing just requires so much time, money and dedication and I didn’t have enough of any.”

Dobson’s strong finishes the last two seasons built enough momentum, particularly with sponsors, that things began to look up.

“It showed I could run with them and a lot of family and friends knew I was doing it on a low budget,” Dobson said. “A lot of them knew I was really wanting to start the season off like this instead of saving my money to be able to finish that way.

“Just in diesel to pull the trailer and pit passes, you’re looking at $200 a week and that doesn’t count tires, fuel, oil. If it’s a good week, then $100 bucks gets me that for a week, plus any tweaking to the car. I can’t speak to the level of commitment for every driver, but I know I put my mind, heart and soul into this.”

That’s required when the car, a huge chassis with a 360 Chevy motor is 10 years old. Dobson’s effort goes to upkeep and studying drivers, said Carl Scott of Hulbert, his uncle and fellow IMCA driver.

“Kreg watches where the drivers are running all the time,” he said. “We got his car set up so good he can run the bottom, he can run the top, wherever he needs to be. He runs comfortable midtrack, halfway up, but he's got a confidence in his car to do what he wants it to do.”

His uncle, though, doesn’t shy from trying to show him up.

“That’s what’s funny. We work out of my shop, he lives in one of my houses and we help each other to make our cars the best. But out there, he don’t know me and I don’t know him,” he said.

“Having said that, we know each other out there pretty well. He’s willing to listen. I’ll tell him what I think he ought to try and do and he’ll try it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and if it doesn’t, he comes back, tells me what he thinks and we’ll make adjustments.”

The two are working on a late model car that Dobson will likely begin competing with in a month.

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