Thomas Kennedy knew someone was closing the gap as the Winnipeg native headed into the final lap Sunday at Nodak Speedway.
It wasn't until he looked up at the leaderboard that he noticed the driver breathing down his neck was none other than Minot legend Donny Schatz.
But Kennedy - driving the blue 20k car - kept his composure and held off Schatz on the final straightaway to win the NOSA Sprints race by 0.277 seconds.
"I saw the 15 car (on the leaderboard) and I just said, 'I sure hope I can make it and finish first,' " Kennedy said. "It was a tough race, but in the end I came out victorious. That's two in a row and I'm just happy."
Kennedy began the race on the outside of row one, behind pole-sitter Austin Pierce in the No. 2 car. Pierce recorded the fastest lap time at 14.555 seconds, clocking in at 92.752 mph. Pierce led the first 14 laps before Kennedy made the pass. Kennedy led the rest of the way, but Schatz gave him all he could handle in the race's final five laps.
"I threw everything but the kitchen sink," Schatz said. "I couldn't make the top work anymore. Just too many crumbs out there. That's the way racing is. The tracks change and I should have been more patient on the bottom, but that's all part of racing. You have to attack and I did. I just made too many mistakes."
Schatz said it was the first time he had raced the sprint car in years.
The World of Outlaws star - electing to start in the back of the 20-car field - quickly moved up the leaderboard. By lap 10, he had made his way into third place and moved one spot behind Kennedy with five laps to go. Schatz made up ground on each lap, but simply ran out of time. But for the hometown favorite, it wasn't about winning the race.
"I didn't come here for any other reason than for the fans," he said. "Ultimately, the fans want to see a great show, the best show they can and I guess that's putting me at the tail. "I never come here just to try and win a race. It's all about having fun."
For Kennedy, it's his second straight NOSA Sprints win at Nodak Speedway and his fourth in his six years racing with the style of car.
Williston's Joe Flory held off his son Dalton on the final lap to win the IMCA Stocks race by 1.158 seconds. Joe Flory took the lead on the 14th lap over Minot's Michael Vennes.
Dalton Flory started the race in the second position, but fell out of the top five after the third lap. He moved up to the third position on lap five and passed Vennes on lap No. 15.
Pole sitter Justin Striefel of Minot lost the lead after being sent to the back of the field when he caused the race's first caution. Striefel didn't recover and finished 11th.
Minot's Nathan Burke - looking for his second first-place finish of the night - settled for third.
Minot's Shane Williams came all the way from the 10th position in the 12-car INEX Legends race to win by less than a second over Steven Kuntz.
Williams needed just two laps to move into the top five and took the lead for good on lap No. 8. Williams and Kuntz jockeyed for position over the final seven laps, holding off Paul Huettl's charge in the third position.
Zac Lutz and Troy Hoff began the race in the front row, but finished eighth and 10th respectively.
Cautions and theatrics highlighted the IMCA Sports Modifieds, with Burke taking the green-white checkered flag.
Burke took his first lead of the race on the 13th lap, moving into the top position after Darren Medler of the No. 72 car was black flagged for break checking. Medler was less than pleased with the decision, doing burnouts on the track amidst heavy traffic along the straightaway.
Seven cautions forced a green-white checkered finish after the race went beyond its 25-minute time limit. Burke held off Jeff Hooker over the final two laps, winning by 1.583 seconds.
Chad Hassan finished third, Robbie Conway finished fourth after cracking the top five on the 13th lap and Lowell Mosby finished fifth.
Minot's Dana Brandt began the night by winning the IMCA Hobby Stock race after starting on the inside of lane four. Brandt moved into the fourth position on lap four before moving up a position in each of the next two laps into second.
Brock Beeter took over the lead from Beau Deschamp on the third lap before Brandt passed him on the ninth lap. Brandt led from there, holding off Brock and Brandon Beeter as well as Brad King and Deschamp.
Brandt built a sizable advantage of the Beeter brothers following a caution on the 10th lap. Brandt won the race by 6.463 seconds. The top five positions remained unchanged in the final five laps.
The Legends Tour comes to Nodak Speedway at 6 p.m. Sunday.
IMCA Hobby Stocks
Heat 1: 1. Brock Beeter, Minot; 2. Keith Mattox, Ray; 3. Ryan George, Westhope.
Heat 2: 1. Dana Brandt, Minot; 2. Brandon Beeter, Minot; 3. Brad King, Parshall.
A-main: 1. Brandt, 2. Brock Beeter; 3. Brandon Beeter; 4. King; 5. Beau Deschamp.
IMCA Sports Modified
Heat 1: 1. Nathan Burke, Minot; 2. Randy Fyllesvold, Plaza; 3. Mike Lemay, Westhope.
Heat 2: 1. Jeff Hooker, Minot; 2. Ryan Wolla, Tioga; 3. Steve Jensen, Hope, Minn.
Heat 3: 1. Chad Hassan, Minot; 2. Matt Lang, Turtle Lake; 3. Eric Folstad, Glenburn.
Heat 4: 1. Robby Rosselli, Minot; 2. Justin Medler, Minot; 3. Lowell Mosby, Williston.,
B-main: 1. Robbie Conway, Westhope; 2. Shannon Cree; 3. Kelly Henderson; 4. Jimmy Ness; 5. Myles Tomlinson.
A-main: 1. Burke; 2. Hooker; 3. Hassan; 4. Conway; 5. Mosby.
Heat 1: 1. Steven Kuntz, Bismarck; 2. Shane Williams, Minot; 3. Zac Lutz, Burlington.
Heat 2: 1. Paul Huettl, Bismarck; 2. Donavin Wiest, Wishek; 3. Steve Pankowski, Minot.
A-main: 1. Williams; 2. Kuntz; 3. Huettl; 4. Wiest; 5. Drew Papke.
IMCA Stock Car
Heat 1: 1. Dalton Flory, Williston; 2. Joe Flory, Williston; 3. Randy Conway, Minot.
Heat 2: 1. Justin Striefel, Minot; 2. Kelly Henderson, Minot; 3. Billy Preston, Burlington.
A-main: 1. 1. Joe Flory; 2. Dalton Flory; 3. Burke; 4. Henderson; 5. Michael Vennes.
NOSA Sprint Car
Heat 1: 1. Casey Mack, East Grand Forks, Minn.; 2. Lee Grosz, Harwood; 3. Donny Schatz, Minot.
Heat 2: 1. Lou Kennedy Jr., Winnipeg, Manitoba; 2. Chris Ranten; 3. Thomas Kennedy, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Heat 3: 1. Wade Nygaard, Grand Forks; 2. Mitch Mack, Grand Forks; 3. Kyle Fedyk, Estevan, SK.
A-main: 1. Kenedy; 2. Schatz; 3. Austin Pierce; 4. Nygaard; 5. Mitch Mack.