Mickelson wins again
Through all the wreckage and mayhem on the track, one driver managed to navigate the maze of approximately 80 cars and win the North Dakota State Fair Enduro at Nodak Speedway on Tuesday. And it was a familiar face.
He had to wait an extra 24 hours after heavy rain postponed the race on Monday, but Festus Mickelson and his No. 31 car won their second straight Enduro after completing 138 laps in the 90-minute time limit to win the annual event.
“It feels good to win,” Mickelson said. “It’s always a good feeling.”
Mike Durham finished a close second, completing 135 laps. Nick Lund took third with 134 laps.
“The goal is just to finish,” Durham said. “So I’m very happy with second place.”
Mickelson said the track was in rougher shape compared to last year and he had a few more close calls than in 2013.
It started on the first turn when he and roughly 10 other drivers came together on the inside portion of the track, causing a massive blockade for the rest of the cars behind them. Mickelson was able recover and continue the race.
“A lot of it is luck,” Mickelson said. “I just kept the wheels turning.”
While Mickelson and most of the cars involved in the pileup were able to continue, Turn 1 wasn’t done collecting vehicles.
Less than five minutes after the first wreckage, nearly one-fifth of the field found itself barreling into one another. With most of the cars piled up on the inside of the track, things got interesting when Alex Tvedt spun out on the top of Turn 1, leaving about two car-lengths of space for cars to navigate through.
Many drivers choose to go in between the stalled cars through the middle of the track, but others opted to drive off the top of the track to get by Tvedt without running the risk of becoming Turn 1’s latest victim. At one point, heavy smoke from one of the stalled cars blanketed the turn, rendering passing drivers blind.
Even drivers who saw their fortunes take a turn for the worse early in the Enduro had a much better time than Bray Meyer. Meyer’s No. 17 stalled on the front straightaway to begin the event, ending his day before it even got going. That didn’t mean his day was uneventful. His car was hit several times during the race and by the time it was over, the No. 17 was in as bad of shape as any.
The track packed in as more laps were completed, and crashes were minimized after the first 15 minutes. It then became a maze filled with nearly two dozen mines littered across the track.
Keith Julson led the race at the halfway point, but an engine fire ended his night prematurely. There were seven red flags as engine fires and detached car parts brought the cars to a stop.
The State Fair races originally scheduled for Tuesday were canceled. Racing resumes at Nodak Speedway on Aug. 3 when all five classes are in action.
Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.