BARROWS - D.J. Dondelinger was two feet away Saturday from having a night to remember in North Central Speedway's season opener.
Polesitter Jay Kintner of Hibbing, who finished fourth in Wissota Super Stock national points last season, edged Dondelinger by two feet at the finish line to win the caution-plagued feature and collect a clean sweep after winning his heat race earlier. Dondelinger, who started on the outside pole, led for 13 of the 15 laps. The race was shortened five laps because of five-plus restarts.
Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
If Dondelinger would have won, he would have collected a clean sweep, it would have been his first win in the class and his son, Max, would have been there to congratulate him.
It was Max's first night racing in NCS Pure Stock, finishing sixth in his heat race and 10th in the consolation feature.
"(I was) all pumped up," D.J. said. "Yep, I was figuring out my speech during the cautions. I can't believe it. I should have won that sucker."
Tim Johnson, who started last on the seventh lap of the race, finished third, Dave Mass finished fourth and 16th-place starter Dave Read finished fifth with smoke billowing from his engine at the line. Read qualified for the feature by winning the consolation feature (the top five in that feature qualified for the main feature).
Other feature winners were Dale Mathison of Clearwater in Wissota Modified, Shane Sabraski of Rice in Wissota Midwest Modified, Al Gessell, Jr., of Big Lake in Wissota Street Stock and Mike Japp in NCS Pure Stock. It was Japp's first feature win in several years.
There were more than 120 entries for the chilly season opener and the speedway was one of the few racing Saturday night. The temperature was 40 degrees when the features started.
But for diehard racing fans, who bundled up as if they were watching a late-fall football game, witnessing the Super Stock feature was well worth it.
Kintner, who tried the entire race to squeeze underneath Dondelinger on the turns, passed Dondelinger on the high side of turn two.
"The deal is I just wanted to protect the bottom and I shouldn't have," D.J. said. "I should have just ran my line. I ran the whole race that way and I was fast enough to stay in front of him. The holes kept getting worse and then I hit them wrong and he got next to me and I was done."
There were no done deals or racers leading the entire race in the other features.
Outside polesitter Japp passed an out of control Tim Otterness on the front straightaway in the closing laps of the 20-lap Pure Stock feature to collect a clean sweep. Japp was followed by Derek Olson and Otterness, who led for only two laps. Cody Przybilla, who started 19th, finished sixth.
Gessell, who was the polesitter, passed Scott Bintz of Jamestown, N.D., on the high side of turn two in the early laps to win the Street Stock feature and also collected a clean sweep. He was followed by Bobby Young and Bintz, who started fourth.
Young, who passed Bintz with three laps to go, put a scare in fans and scorers when his car hit a tire on turn four. His car went up on its left side's two wheels but bounced back down on the track. He lost only one spot.
"It was nuts. I thought I was going over," said Young. "At first I seen sky and then I seen dirt."
Sabraski, who started 10th, passed Jason Vandekamp on the 11th lap on turn three to win the Midwest Modified feature. A lap earlier, Sabraski, Vandekamp and Greg Chesley of Duluth were three-wide at the line. Sabraski was followed by Vandekamp, Dan Ebert, who started eighth, Andy Jones and Bob Smith.
Vandekamp, Greg Chesley, who started fourth, and Sabraski raced three-wide under the flag stand early in the race.
Outside polesitter Mathison passed sixth-place starter Sabraski in turn two of the closing laps to win the Wissota Modified feature and collect a clean sweep. Sabraski finished second, Deerwood's Danny Vang was third, Onamia's Justin Jones was fourth and Chuck Cooper of Milaca was fifth in the finale.
Cousins Ethan and Derek Sweet raced in the Super Stock class for the first time. Ethan finished third in the consolation feature en route to finishing 12th in the main feature. Derek finished eighth in the consolation feature. Both finished sixth in their heat races.
Feature: 1-Mike Japp, 2-Derek Olson, Tim Otterness, 4-Brian Boser, 5-Mike Smude
Consolation Feature: 1-Mike Smude, Mike Kelly, 3-Cody Przybilla
Heat 1: 1-Gary Ohnstad, 2-Shawn Willis, 3-Bill Nelson
Heat 2: 1-Mike Japp, 2-Robert Mueller, 3-Dan Bartick
Heat 3: 1-Derek Olson, 2-Todd Nelson, 3-Luke Shipman
Heat 4: 1-Tim Otterness, 2-Clayton Caird, 3-Brad Nelson
Wissota Street Stock
Feature: 1-Allen Gessell Jr., 2-Bobby Young, 3-Scott Bintz, 4-Tim Johnson, 5-Jack Peterson
Heat 1: 1-Gessell, Jr., 2-Tim Johnson, 3-Charlie Peterson
Heat 2: 1-Young, 2-Scott Bintz, 3-Conrad Olson
Wissota Super Stock
Feature: 1-Jay Kintner, 2-D.J. Dondelinger, 3-Tim Johnson, 4-Dave Mass, 5-Dave Read
Consolation Feature: 1-Dave Read, 2-Jeff Lien, 3- Ethan Sweet, 4-John Kropuenske, 5-Bruce Schouveller
Heat 1: Jay Kintner, 2-Dan Gullickson, 3-Donnie Jensen
Heat 2: 1-D.J. Dondelinger, 2-Dave Mass, 3-Todd Walock
Heat 3: 1-Tim Johnson, 2-Erick Thiesse, 3-Ken Puckett
Wissota Midwest Modified
Feature: 1-Shane Sabraski, 2-Jason Vandekamp, 3-Dan Ebert, 4-Andy Jones, 5-Bob Smith
Consolation Feature 1: 1- Dennis Czech, 2-Lonny Loeschke
Consolation Feature 2: 1-Steve Alsaken, 2-Mitch Lowe
Heat 1: 1-John Thompson, 2-Charlie Hillukka, 3-Mike Jones
Heat 2: 1-Jason Vandekamp, 2-Dan Ebert, 3-Bob Smith
Heat 3: 1-Mike Kuhlman, 2-Travis Wermter, 3-Ryan Kriese
Heat 4: 1-Greg Chesley, 2-Shane Sabraski, 3-Andy Jones
Heat 5: 1-Bud Martini, 2-Steve Strandlund Jr., 3-Mark Prueser
Heat 6: 1-Luke Hines, 2-Tim Siercks, 3-Mark Anderson
Feature: 1-Dale Mathison, 2-Shane Sabraski, 3-Danny Vang, 4-Justin Jones, 5-Chuck Cooper
Heat 1: 1-David Siercks, 2-Justin Jones, 3-Shane Sabraski
Heat 2: 1-Ryan Cannon, 2-Eric Martini, 3-Chuck Cooper
Heat 3: 1-Dale Mathison, 2-Danny Vang, 3-Luke Hines
clint wood may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5869.
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