Typically, the last thing the leader wants to see when he's just over a lap away from victory lane is a caution flag.
Yet, when the caution came out on the second-to-last lap of the International Motor Contest Association Modifieds feature Sunday at Nodak Speedway, Robert Hellebust was all smiles because he knew the race was in the bag.
"The lap traffic was getting so heavy that I wanted to see a caution," Hellebust said. "And then we got that caution and I was pumped. I knew I was going to be able to get my line back. I knew we would be good after that last caution."
Robert Hellebust claimed the International Motor Contest Association Modifieds feature race Sunday at Nodak Speedway.
Hellebust looked poised to run away with the final race of opening night at Nodak Speedway, taking a sizable lead over Travis Hagen and Spencer Wilson, who were running 2-3 through the first eight laps. But Hellebust ran into lap traffic on lap 10, which allowed Wilson to creep into his rearview mirror down the stretch. Wilson passed Hagen on the ninth lap and quickly cut into Hellebust's large lead.
"I knew when I got in that heavy lap traffic that that second guy was going to be coming because I got slowed down a bunch," Hellebust said. "I really got slowed down. I got off my groove, off my rhythm. I had to choose different lines in and out of traffic."
If there was one thing Wilson didn't want to see, it was a caution.
"I had him," Wilson said. "It was over if I didn't get the caution. I was going by him. I did not need the caution. I was fixin' to put it on him."
Wilson settled for second. Hagen finished third and Drew Christianson and Jason Wolla finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Michael Vennes did all he could, but he wasn't able to get in front of Gregg Mann down the stretch as Mann won the IMCA Stock Cars feature. Mann and Vennes ran 1-2 the final 17 laps with Mann holding off Vennes at every turn.
Tyler Ashley took third after grabbing the position on the ninth lap following the third caution of the race. Behind Ashley was a battle for fourth between Nathan Burke and Dalton Flory.
Austin Daae had a rough night after winning his heat race and starting the feature on the outside of the first row. He was running third when he blew a tire on the eighth lap. Adding insult to injury, Daae was black flagged for stopping on the track instead of exiting to the pits.
The craziest finish of the night came in the INEX Legends feature, with Paul Huettl being awarded the victory after a crash on the final turn collected Huettl's No. 41 car. Huettl had the lead coming out of the final turn, but was spun out by Donavin Wiest. Shane Williams crossed the finish line first, but was dropped to second after it was determined Huettl wasn't responsible for the final-lap crash.
Williams, who led to start laps 10-14, was none too happy with the decision, letting the officials know it before exiting to the pit area. Williams found himself in second place after three laps after starting from outside the top five.
Tom Wagner took third, followed by Drew Papke in fourth and Steven Kuntz. Wiest was running fifth before being charged with the final caution and finishing in the back of the pack.
After four cautions in the first nine laps, the IMCA Sport Modifieds finally got going and delivered an exciting finish. In the end, Burke emerged victorious, holding off Kelly Henderson to win the feature race.
Burke, the pole-sitter, never squandered the lead, leaving Henderson and Robbie Conway to battle for the runner-up position. Henderson, who moved up to second place past Conway on the second lap, held on for the runner-up finish. Conway was third.
Robby Rosselli moved into the top five following the final restart of the race and placed fourth after overtaking Erik Laudenschlager on the 12th lap. Darren Medler also found his way into the top five, placing fifth.
The offseason didn't cool off Brandon Beeter as he edged Dana Brandt by 0.186 seconds to win the IMCA Hobby Stocks feature in a green-white-checkered finish. Beeter fended off Brandt on the final straightaway after Brandt took the brief lead coming out of turn four.
Beeter, last year's Hobby Stocks points champion, led every lap. It didn't take long for him, Brandt and Brad King to separate from the field. Brandt took the second position from King on lap five. King took third, 0.642 seconds behind Beeter.
Cody Dignan overtook Keith Mattox on the final restart to finish fourth. Kadi Ruby took fifth.
Racing at Nodak Speedway resumes Sunday at 6 p.m. with all five models in action.
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.
IMCA Hobby Stocks
Heat 1: 1. Brock Beeter, Minot; 2. Darren Schatz, Williston; 3. Adam Goff.
Heat 2: 1. Dana Brandt, Minot; 2. Brad King, Fairbanks, Alaska; 3. Ben Zietz, Velva.
Heat 3: 1. Jason Olsen, Minot; 2. Kadi Vondal; 3. Ryder Scholpp, Lampman, Sask.
A-Main: 1. Beeter; 2. Brandt; 3. King; 4. Cody Dignan; 5. Kadi Ruby.
IMCA Sport Modifieds
Heat 1: 1. Nathan Burke, Minot; 2. Brandon Beeter, Minot; 3. Erik Laudenschlager, Surrey.
Heat 2: 1. Robbie Conway, Westhope; 2. Zac Lutz, Burlington; 3. Ryan Wolla, Tioga.
Heat 3: 1. Kelly Henderson, Minot; 2. Matt Lang, Turtle Lake; 3. Jeff Hooker, Minot.
Heat 4: 1. Darren Medler, Minot; 2. Myles Tomlinson, Turtle Lake; 3. Robby Rosselli, Minot.
B-Main: 1. Chase Conway; 2. Jimmy Ness; 3. Stan Tomlinson; 4. Kit Baumann; 5. Jarred Campos.
A-Main: 1. Burke; 2. Henderson; 3. Conway; 4. Rosselli; 5. Medler.
Heat 1: 1. Paul Huettl, Bismarck; 2. John Huettl, Minot; 3. Nathan Watne, Velva.
Heat 2: 1. Donavin Wiest, Wishek; 2. Paul Morman, Wishek; 3. Steve Pankowski, Minot.
A-Main: 1. Huettl; 2. Shane Williams; 3. Tom Wagner; 4. Drew Papke; 5. Steven Kuntz.
IMCA Stock Cars
Heat 1: 1. Gregg Mann, Estevan, Sask; 2. Tyler Ashley, Bismarck; 3. Nathan Burke, Minot.
Heat 2: 1. Austin Daae, Estevan, Sask.; 2. Dalton Flory, Williston; 3. Michael Vennes, Minot.
A-Main: 1. Mann; 2. Vennes; 3. Ashley; 4. Burke; 5. Flory.
Heat 1: 1. Robert Hellebust, Kenmare; 2. Shawn Anderson, Minot; 3. Jason Wolla.
Heat 2: 1. Travis Hagen, Williston; 2. Spencer Wilson, Minot; 3. Drew Christianson, Minot.
Heat 3: 1. Allen Kent, Minot; 2. Dallas Rice, Minot; 3. Wayne Johnson, Minot.
A-Main: 1. Hellebust; 2. Wilson; 3. Hagen; 4. Christianson; 5. Wolla.