Last year's International Motor Contest Association Nationals champion Jeff Taylor made a rare June appearance to Nodak Speedway on Sunday.
But despite being more than 1,200 miles away from his family on Father's Day, the Cave City, Ark., native made Minot's 0.375-mile track seem like home. Taylor took the lead on lap 17 and cruised to victory lane in the IMCA Modifieds race.
Taylor - who made the early trip to Minot to break in a new car - won the race by more than four seconds over Williston's Mike Hagen and Ed Turnbull of Estevan, Sask., who finished second and third, respectively. Taylor typically makes his trip to Minot in July for the Dakota Classic Tour.
Taylor said he was unaware of the distance he had put between himself and the rest of the field.
"I didn't have a clue," he said. "I kept trying to find my crew guy. I just started pacing myself and I wanted to race in the middle, but I felt pretty good where I was at. I don't like to run the bottom, but that's where it was best."
Four cautions in the first two laps, including two on the first turn, slowed the race to a crawl. Four racers were unable to finish a fifth of the race and six of the 19 drivers did not see the checkered flag.
"They were crashing on the start and I got into a couple guys," Taylor said. "I just tried to make as much of the race track as I could and I slipped up there one time and ran into the No. 19 car, but that was just racing. It's a great track. I love it. I just wish we could have moved around a little more."
The No. 5T car of Taylor began the race in 14th, but jumped into the top five by lap seven. Taylor inched toward the front on lap 15 when lap traffic came into play. Taylor passed Hagen with eight laps to go and distanced himself quickly from the rest of the pack.
The fifth caution of the race brought the cars back together on lap 18, but Hagen said he knew he wasn't going to catch Taylor on the restart. He instead focused on beating out Turnbull for third place, which he accomplished by 0.236 seconds.
"It's not so bad getting beat by the Nationals champion tonight," Hagen said. "I was just trying to keep my spot."
Kenmare's Robert Hellebust and Minot's Allen Kent rounded out the top five.
Minot's Nathan Burke had the fastest lap, but he couldn't catch Williston's Joe Flory in the IMCA Stock Car race. Flory led the final 14 laps and the top five remained unchanged in the second half of the race.
Flory started on the outside of row one behind Minot's Michael Vennes. Vennes led the opening five laps before dropping back and finishing eighth.
Burke closed on Flory down the stretch, shaving off precious time each lap. But Flory had just enough left to take the checkered flag. Josh Wolla, Randy Conway and Bob Fuegmann rounded out the top five.
Minot's Robby Rosselli survived seven cautions, including three on the opening lap, to win the IMCA Sport Modifieds race. Rosselli took the lead after Burke experienced car trouble on lap 10. Burke led for five laps.
Rosselli - starting fifth in the No. 0 car - moved up to third on lap four and passed Plaza's Randy Fyllesvold on the ninth lap. He moved into the lead a lap later before the race's seventh caution, forcing a green-white-checkered finish.
Minot's Kelly Henderson slipped into second place on the final lap behind Rosselli, passing Fyllesvold, who finished third. Turtle Lake's Matt Lang and Minot's Jeff Hooker finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Ray's Keith Mattox won his first race at Nodak Speedway and his first IMCA Hobby Stock feature race in three years. Mattox took the lead from pole-sitter Nate Joern on the opening lap and held on the rest of the way.
Williston's Dave Swallers moved from fourth to second on the first lap, but surrendered his runner-up position on the second-to-last lap to Minot's Brandon Beeter. Brandon and brother Brock Beeter jostled for third early in the race before Brandon pulled away. But Brandon couldn't find an opening on the final turn and finished second. Brock took seventh.
Swallers settled for third and Joern dropped all the way back to 12th.
The racing season at Nodak Speedway continues at 6 p.m. Sunday with IMCA Hobby Stocks, INEX Legends, IMCA Sport Modifieds and IMCA Modifieds races.
IMCA Hobby Stocks
Heat 1: 1. Brock Beeter, Minot; 2. Beau Deschamp, Bottineau; 3. Dave Swallers, Williston.
Heat 2: 1.Dana Brandt, Minot; 2. Brandon Beeter, Minot; 3. Keith Mattox, Ray.
A-Main: 1. Mattox; 2. Brandon Beeter; 3. Swallers; 4. Brandt; 5. Deschamp.
IMCA Sport Modifieds
Heat 1: 1. Randy Fyllesvold, Plaza; 2. Brandt; 3. Steve Jensen, Hope, Minn.
Heat 2: 1. Jordan Huettl, Minot; 2. Nathan Burke, Minot; 3. Isaac Sondrol, Turtle Lake.
Heat 3: 1. Robby Rosselli, Minot; 2. Jeff Hooker, Minot; 3. Robbie Conway, Westhope.
Heat 4: 1. Matt Lang, Turtle Lake; 2. Myles Tomlinson, Turtle Lake; 3. Mike Lemay, Westhope.
A-Main: 1. Rosselli; 2. Henderson; 3. Fyllesvold; 4. Lang; 5. Hooker.
IMCA Stock Cars
Heat 1: 1. Joe Flory, Williston; 2. Kelly Henderson, Minot; 3. Steve Lunderby, Sidney, Mont.
Heat 2: 1. Burke, 2. Michael Vennes, Minot; 3. Scott Yale, Minot.
A-Main: 1. Joe Flory; 2. Burke; 3. Josh Wolla; 4. Randy Conway; 5. Bob Fuegmann.
Heat 1: 1. Allen Kent, Minot; 2. John Flory, Williston; 3. Marlyn Seidler, Underwood.
Heat 2: 1. Drew Christianson, Minot; 2. Robert Hellebust, Kenmare; 3. Mike Hagen, Williston.
A-Main: 1. Jeff Taylor, Cave City, Ark.; 2. Hagen; 3. Ed Turnbull; 4. Hellebust; 5. Kent.