The INEX Legends Tour championship can't be won on the first night, but it can certainly be lost.
While winning each race is the ultimate goal, the focus is on being consistent. Being in the top five all four nights gives drivers the inside track at the tour title and the $500 grand prize. The tour begins tonight at Tri-County Speedway in Wishek.
"Consistency," Wishek's Donavin Wiest said. "You have to drive smart, make sure you're up front and take advantage of any goof-ups from someone else."
Wishek’s Donavin Wiest (19) is seeking his first INEX Legends Tour championship since 2010. He finished third last year behind Steven Kuntz and tour champion Shane Williams.
Wiest and the rest of the Legends drivers have raced at Tri-County Speedway only once this season and it went in favor of the hometown No. 19 car. Wiest, who finished third in the tour standings last year and won it in 2010, took the checkered flag with last year's tour champion Shane Williams following in second.
Williams, a Minot native, won last year's tour championship by six points over Bismarck's Steven Kuntz, ensuring the title with a victory in the final leg of the tour at Nodak Speedway. Williams said defending the crown will be a tall order.
"It's going to be tough this year. There's some tough guys out there. You've got Donavin Wiest, Troy Hoff is up and coming. He's won a couple races this year. There's some really good competition."
Following tonight's race, the tour shifts to Dacotah Speedway in Mandan, where Wiest is the current point leader with 370. In four races at the track, Wiest has placed in the top five each time despite not winning. He's finished second, third, fourth and fifth. Williams is 14th in the standings, but didn't race in the third week. He won on opening night and took second in his most recent trip to Mandan. Kuntz has also grabbed the checkered flag at Dacotah Speedway.
The Legends head to McLean County Speedway in Underwood on Saturday for the first time this year. Despite the unfamiliarity with the track this season, the formula remains the same.
"Be consistent, stay on top of your game, stay away from the wrecks," Williams said. "As long as you can get your way through and stay close to the front we race on a couple smaller tracks where there's a lot of cars there you're fine."
Both Wiest and Williams expect the tour title to be decided on the final night, Sunday at Nodak Speedway. Both feel comfortable at the three-eighths track, especially Wiest. After a 12th-place finish on opening night in Minot in which he was assessed a caution on the final lap, Wiest has won four of the last five, including three straight. He finished second in the other and is two points behind Williams in the point standings with 571.
"It's a good-sized track for everybody so there's plenty of room," Wiest said. "This year I think it's going to be winner-take-all."
Williams won on opening night and has finished in the top four all six races. He's placed second in two of the last three. Outside of a 12th-place finish two weeks ago, Kuntz has been inside the top five with one victory.
"I think it's going to be a dog fight for the top four or five cars," Williams said. "It's going to be within a point. We've all been 1, 2, 3, 4 every race."
Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and racing during the summer. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.