Robert Barker has a pretty decent Texas Super Racing Series Late Model (TSRS) batting average this season - three-for-three - with the latest coming this past Saturday at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas.
Barker set fast second- fast time in qualifying at the 3/8-mile, D-shaped oval with his Mission Auto Parts Ford Fusion, drew the pole in the line-up draw and led all 50 laps to complete a nearly flawless race weekend.
But that perfect batting average may soon be in jeopardy as youngsters JT Schild and Austin Self, along with seasoned veteran Bobby Teer, Jr. are coming on strong.
Schild, who started on the outside pole next to Barker, got hung out a bit at the drop of the green which allowed Self , who had lined up on the inside row two, to grab the second spot early, but Schild quickly returned the favor, dropping Self to third in the early going.
Meanwhile, Teer, who was quickest in time trials, had worked his way up to Self’s bumper from his sixth starting spot while Barker and Schild went nose-to-tail for several laps until Schild slipped a bit exiting a turn and Barker took off, never to be seriously challenged again.
At that point all eyes were on the heated battle for third between Self and Teer, who was using every trick in the book to force Self to make a mistake, but the youngster, driving only his second TSRS Late Model race, proved his second place finish in the last TSRS event was no fluke and hung tough.
Finally on lap 16 Teer made a textbook inside pass – no paint whatsoever traded - to take the spot.
At just past the halfway point, a caution bunched the nine-car field.
On the restart Barker got away cleanly, but Self made a huge move on Teer and grabbed third while veteran Mike Reininger took command of the fifth spot behind Teer.
A couple of laps later Teer got into the back of Self coming off turn four getting him a bit sideways, but Self was able to recover and hold the spot as while Barker and Schild pulled away once again.
For the next several laps Teer backed off a bit, cooling his tires and plotting his next move. And with five to go he gave Self a bit of a nudge in turn one and scooted by on the inside as the pair exited turn two to claim third once again.
Up front, Barker was long gone, but Teer and Self seemed to be closing in on Schild, who had faded a bit in second with handling issues. The pair ran out of laps, however, and at the checkered it was Barker by several car lengths over Schild, a fast-closing Teer, a determined Self and a fast-improving Reininger the top five.
Texas Super Racing Series Late Model 50-lap feature results:
1. 17 Robert Barker Boerne, TX, 50 laps QT 15.234
2. 25 JT Schild Waller, TX, 50 laps QT 15.853
3. 2 Bobby Teer Jr. Comfort, TX, 50 laps QT 15.202 Fast Time/Hard Charger
4. 07 Austin Self Austin, TX, 50 laps QT 15.407
5. 3 Mike Reininger San Antonio, TX, 50 laps QT 15.806
6. 92 Taylor Brandes Garden Ridge, TX, 50 laps QT 15.420
7. 28 Jeff O’Neill Round Rock, TX, 50 laps QT 15.879
8. 5 Heather Ables Whitney, TX, 48 laps QT 16.852
9. 56 Joey Jenkins Del Valle, TX, 48 laps QT 16.177