A near four-year hiatus from auto racing hasn't slowed Geoff Hellman in the least.
The 27-year-old WISSOTA Street Stocks driver from Mandan left racing in 2013 to devote more time to work and family, but returned midway through the 2017 season. Now his first full season since 2013 is shaping up to be one of his best.
Hellman picked up his second feature victory at Mandan's Dacotah Speedway Aug. 10 to solidify his hold on second place in the WISSOTA Streets Stocks points standings. He now has 897 points -- 55 more than third-place Shawn Volk ,of Lincoln, and 77 more than fourth-place Matt Dosch, also of Lincoln. Zach Frederick, of Richardton, leads the pack with 942.
It was Hellman's second victory in three feature races at Mandan. He was the feature winner on opening night of the North Dakota Governors Cup on July 27 -- his first feature victory since his comeback. He finished fourth the following night, but earned enough points to capture his first overall Governors Cup championship. His other feature finishes at Mandan include four in the top five.
"It feels good to get a full year in again. I missed it," Hellman said. "I didn't know what to expect, but it's been a good year, so far. I've been able to win some features here the last few weeks and I'm hoping I can finish up strong."
Hellman started eighth in the 20-lap feature, but went on to dominate the race. He shot into third place during the third lap and into first one lap later. He wound up finishing 3.03 seconds ahead of second-place Zach Frederick, and 6.34 seconds ahead of third-place Allan Frederick, of Richardton.
"This was definitely one of my better nights," Hellman said. "I found a groove and stuck with it."
With only two racing dates remaining at Mandan, Hellman said catching frontrunner Zach Frederick will be a difficult task. However, he is happy to be in the position that he is in.
"Zach is having a great year and he has a comfortable lead. A lot will have to go right for me and a lot will have to go wrong for him for me to pass him," Hellman said. "But I've never really been in it for the points. I just enjoy what I'm doing. Second place is good. If that's where I finish, I'll be happy with that."
Also on Aug. 10, veteran Marlyn Seidler, of Underwood, moved closer to first place in the IMCA Modified standings with his second feature victory of the season. Seidler, who started ninth, pulled into second place during the sixth lap and battled leader Travis Peery, of Williston, before passing him late on the 23rd go-around -- two laps from the checkered flag.
Seidler raised his point total to 280 and trails leader Shawn Strand, of Mandan, by 11. Jeremy Keller, of Mandan, is in second place with 286. Strand and Keller finished fifth and fourth, respectively, in the Aug. 10 feature.
John Gartner Jr., of Mandan, extended his lead in the Hobby Stocks standings. Gartner passed Dylan Sandberg, of Bismarck, coming out of the fourth turn on the 15th and final lap to win for the sixth time this season.
Gartner came into the night holding a two-point advantage over Brent Vetter, of Wishek, but Vetter was forced to leave the track during the 11th lap after making contact with another car. Gartner's victory and Vetter's DNF extended the margin between first and second to 38 points (868-830).
Tim Estenson, a 15-year-old from Fargo, picked up a victory in the 15-lap Legends feature. He overtook leader Austin Wiest, of Bismarck, on the 13th lap.
Points leader Donavin Wiest, of Wishek, came in third and now holds a 30-point advantage over Drew Papke, of Bismarck.
Craig Kastner, of Bismarck, recorded his third feature victory in the Sport Compact class on Friday.
Seth Howe-Kellar, of Wilton, has a 22-point lead over Stan Thompson, of Bismarck, (302-280) in that class.