After a disappointing 14th place finish at Nodak Speedway in the second leg of the six-day Dakota Classic Modifieds Tour, Aaron Turnbull returned home at the perfect time.
The Estevan, Sask., native claimed the third race of the tour at his home track at Estevan Motor Speedway before winning the next night at Basin Speedway in Williston en route to capturing his first tour title.
"I just had some bad luck in Minot and I was able to get a little more time in the shop at home and sometimes that's a little nicer than working on it on the track," Turnbull said.
IMCA Modifieds driver Aaron Turnbull (21) of Estevan, Sask., races in the Dakota Classic Modifieds Tour at Nodak Speedway on Sunday. Turnbull won the tour title with 220 points.
Turnbull closed out the tour with a fourth-place finish at Southwest Speedway in Dickinson on Wednesday and a second-place finish on championship night at Dacotah Speedway in Mandan on Thursday. Turnbull accumulated 220 points, 14 points in front of Minot's Allen Kent and 25 points ahead of Mandan's Jeremy Keller and Shawn Strand.
Kent held the top spot in the rankings throughout the first half of the tour. He opened the festivities with a win at Jamestown Speedway and added to his points lead with seventh- and second-place finishes at Nodak Speedway and Estevan Motor Speedway, respectively.
Despite finishing outside the top 10 in Minot, Turnbull said it didn't weigh on him.
"I still wasn't too bad in points," he said. "I didn't think I was going to win it, but I was hoping for top three or four. It didn't discourage me too much. I just had to be fast and consistent and when you do that the points take care of themselves."
Turnbull entered Monday's race at his home track trailing Kent by 10 points and although he only gained a point in the standings after winning the feature race, momentum swung in the Canadian's favor. A victory in Williston, coupled with Kent's 14th-place finish, put Turnbull in the tour lead with two races remaining.
Turnbull kept his foot on the gas in Dickinson, stretching his advantage over Kent to 10 points after his fourth-place finish. While he knew he didn't need a strong showing in Mandan on the final night to capture the tour title, he still wanted to end on a high note. A runner-up performance - his fifth top-five finish of the tour - sealed Turnbull's spot atop the Modifieds standings.
"My number one goal was still to win the race," Turnbull said. "I have a pretty good setup for Mandan. I kept telling myself during the feature that the championship is more important than winning the race."
Iowa native dominates
Dakota Classic Stock Car Tour
International Motor Contest Association Stock Car driver Elijah Zevenbergen doesn't frequent the North Dakota and Estevan race tracks as much as some of his competition, but the Ocheyedan, Iowa, native looked at home during the six-day Dakota Classic Stock Car Tour.
Zevenbergen won five of the six races and held off fellow Iowan Randy Brands by 10 points to claim the tour title. Zevenbergen closed the tour with three consecutive features wins after finishing fifth at Estevan Motor Speedway on Monday.
Zevenbergen would have run away with the championship had it not been for Brands performance. Brand - like Zevenbergen - placed in the top five in all six races. He finished runner-up in Dickinson and had three third-place finishes.
"They're travelers," Minot's Nathan Burke said. "It's obvious that when you travel you're ready to go and they spend a lot of time doing this."
Burke placed third, 17 points back of Zevenbergen. Burke trailed Zevenbergen by four points after the two went 1-2 at Nodak Speedway, but yielded the second-place spot to Brands after placing seventh in Estevan.