Finishing first hasn't been the top problem for Minot's Drew Christianson this season.
It's simply finishing a race that's largely eluded the No. 29 driver at Nodak Speedway. Entering Sunday's race, Christianson failed to finish two of his first three starts at Nodak Speedway and placed 12th in the other.
But Christianson found a glimmer of hope in a season full of frustration as he took the checkered flag in the International Motor Contest Association Modifieds race Sunday.
Christianson led the final 17 laps after Mike Hagen of Williston left the track during a caution and didn't return. He outlasted fellow Minot driver Wayne Johnson down the stretch for the victory.
"It feels good to finally finish," Christianson said. "I've only finished maybe three races this year. We've had some issues with this and that."
Johnson had his chance to win the race after two cars racing a lap behind wrecked each other on turn two with seven laps remaining. But Christianson didn't surrender the bottom of the track following the caution and Johnson had no way around him.
"It was my chance, but he stuck to the bottom like he should have," Johnson said. "He's a smart racer. He did a good job."
Johnson was hoping to build on a sixth-place finish in Williston on Saturday after starting the race in the back row.
Christianson recorded the top speed of the race, clocking in at 73.465 mph. He won the race by 1.308 seconds and was unaware of the distance between himself and Johnson.
"I couldn't hear anybody, so I didn't think anybody was right there and I wasn't going to move until I saw someone go around me," Christianson said.
Pole-sitter Jamall Wold finished seventh after leading the first three laps. Points leader Steven Pfeifer of Minot finished fourth.
Minot's Shane Williams was pushed late, but took home the checkered flag in the INEX Legends feature race. This year's Legends Tour winner edged out Mercer's Tom Wagner by 0.443 seconds.
Williams held a comfortable lead for the majority of the race, but Wagner made one final push as traffic came into play on the first turn of the final lap. Wagner was right on Williams' bumper before Williams separated himself on the backstretch.
Williams and Wagner had no company as third-place finisher Paul Huettl, of Bismarck, finished 4.470 seconds behind the leader. Pole-sitter Jon Schumann of Mercer finished ninth and points leader Steven Kuntz of Bismarck took seventh.
Minot's Jordan Huettl never surrendered his lead despite several caution flags that brought him back to the rest of the pack. Huettl withstood the night's second green-white-checkered flag to win the IMCA Sport Modifieds feature.
Huettl put a stranglehold on the lead after passing pole-sitter Brock Beeter of Minot early in the race. He didn't falter after the final caution brought out the green-white-checkered flag. Huettl created enough space to hold off Westhope's Robbie Conway by 0.648 seconds.
The top three spots remained unchanged for the final 15 laps. Minot's Jeff Hooker finished third, while Robby Rosselli and Nathan Burke - both of Minot - finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Half of the field didn't finish the race.
Minot's Brandon Beeter won the IMCA Hobby Stock feature race, which was marred by a horrific crash on turn one of lap eight. Kenmare's Cody Dignan, driving the No. 4 car, hit the inside rail and flipped several times before coming to rest on the track. Dignan's crash brought out the first red flag at Nodak Speedway this season. Dignan was able to leave the track under his own power.
Brandon Beeter, the points leader heading into Sunday's race, overtook Adam Goff for the lead on lap four and held off Parshall's Brad King and brother Brock Beeter for the green-white-checkered flag.
The race included six cautions, the first of which knocked Minot's Dana Brandt out on the opening lap. Brandt entered the race two points behind Brandon Beeter.
Nine of the 19 drivers didn't finish the race and three, including Brandt, were unable to complete a lap.
Racing continues at Nodak Speedway at 6 p.m. Sunday with the IMCA Hobby Stocks, INEX Legends, IMCA Stock Cars and IMCA Modifieds.
Mike Kraft covers racing at Nodak Speedway during the summer. Follow him on Twitter at @MKraft23 _MDN.
IMCA Hobby Stocks
Heat 1: 1. Cody Dignan, Kenmare; 2. Keith Mattox, Ray; 3. Brandon Beeter, Minot.
Heat 2: 1. Dana Brandt, Minot; 2. Brad King, Parshall; 3. Beau Deschamp, Bottineau.
A-Main: 1. Brandon Beeter; 2. King; 3. Brock Beeter; 4. Mattox; 5. Gary Goudy Jr.
IMCA Sport Modifieds
Heat 1: 1. Nathan Burke, Minot; 2. Brock Beeter, Minot; 3. Matt Lang, Turtle Lake.
Heat 2: 1. Robbie Conway, Westhope; 2. Darren Medler, Minot; 3. Dusty Falcon, Williston.
Heat 3: 1. Jordan Huettl, Minot; 2. Jeff Hooker, Minot; 3. Shannon Cree, Minot.
Heat 4: 1. Robby Rosselli, Minot; 2. Isaac Sondrol, Turtle Lake; 3. Ryan Wolla, Tioga.
B-Main: 1. Mike Lemay, Westhope; 2. Jimmy Ness; 3. Josh Wolla; 4. Colton Axtman; 5. Ross Cummings.
A-Main: 1. Huettl; 2. Conway; 3. Hooker; 4. Rosselli; 5. Burke.
Heat 1: 1. Shane Williams, Minot; 2. Tom Wagner, Mercer; 3. Donavin Wiest, Wishek.
Heat 2: 1. Paul Huettl, Bismarck; 2. Drew Papke, Bismarck; 3. Shad Powers.
A-Main: 1. Williams; 2. Wagner; 3. Huettl; 4. Steve Pankowski; 5. Papke.
Heat 1: 1. Wayne Johnson, Minot; 2. Troy Kittler, Turtle Lake; 3. Allen Kent, Minot.
Heat 2: 1. Shawn Anderson, Minot; 2. Mike Hagen, Williston; 3. Jason Wolla, Williston.
Heat 3: 1. Ed Turnbull, Estevan, Sask; 2. Drew Christianson, Minot; 3. John Flory, Williston.
A-Main: 1. Christianson; 2. Johnson; 3. Kent; 4. Steven Pfeifer; 5. Spencer Wilson.