Jonny Carter was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
He wasn't able to run the race he wanted Friday night at Dacotah Speedway, but he came away a winner nonetheless.
"I hate starting in the front row. You're kind of a sitting duck. But it kind of worked out for us tonight," the Lisbon driver said after holding off Billie Christ of Jamestown to win the Street Stocks feature by about six-tenths of a second.
His margin of victory was about four car lengths.
"I'd prefer starting in the second row," said Carter, who is the reigning national WISSOTA Street Stocks champion. "You get to search around the race track ... and you can judge your speed from who's in front."
Carter didn't race like a driver who would rather not run in front. Following two restarts, he took the lead on the first lap and stubbornly refused to surrender the lead for 20 turns around the Mandan dirt track oval.
Christ ran second much of the race, and moved to within inches of Carter's car with eight laps to go. At that point Carter picked up the pace, opening a two-length lead that he gradually extended to four before he took the checkered flag.
Carter narrowly missed winning the feature on opening night in Mandan, finishing second as he attempted to overtake Todd Carter on the final lap.
"We ran here six or seven times last year," said Carter, a 29-year-old graduate of Lisbon High School. "This is my second night here this year. I lost to my uncle (Todd) last week."
Long before he took up motor sports, Carter was a wrestler. He took to the mat at age two and continued through high school. He wrestled for the 2008 state champion Broncos.
"This is my 10th year as a Streeter, and I've probably raced 15 altogether. I started racing with a four-cylinder Ford Ranger pickup," he recalled. "That was at Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon. The track is about three blocks from my house."
Carter picked up more than first-place money at Mandan. Friday's racing show included the first night of racing on the Steffes Street Stock Tour, a 16-stop event scheduled to conclude Aug. 9 at Carter's home track. There are seven stops scheduled in North Dakota, six in Minnesota and three in South Dakota.
Although he won't make it to all of the 16 stops, Carter wants to make his presence known on the tour.
"We'll (compete) as much as much as we can, whatever work allows. It will be a little tough to get to some of those races," he said.
"Work" for Carter is welding. He works for Doosan Bobcat at Gwinner.
Friday's visit to Mandan was the start of a three-day racing weekend for Carter. He ran at Jamestown on Saturday and will race at the Lisbon track tonight.
Busy racing weekends arecommon for Carter during the racing season.
"Usually 40 or 45 (shows) is a pretty good year for us. We usually race two or three nights a week," he said. "The most we've ever run in a year is 47."
Friday's five feature winners represented an interesting spread of North Dakota geography. Modified winner Quentin Kinzley is from Bismarck. Donavin Wiest of Wishek prevailed in the Legends final. John Gartner Jr. of Mandan took hobby stocks honors and Braydee Hanson of Washburn finished first in the sport compacts feature. Wiest and Hanson repeated after winning on opening night.
Kinzley's feature victory was the second of his career at Mandan. Following two restarts, the feature was run under imminent threat of a shutdown. A third caution would have ended the race. Hank Berry of Sidney, Mont., led the first two laps before yielding the lead to Kinzley, who ran in front the rest of the way. Kinzley won by 3.4 seconds over Berry, who was the runner-up.
Donavin Wiest took the lead in the Legends feature on the eighth lap by overtaking Austin Wiest of Bismarck. The Bismarck driver kept things interesting the rest of the way, staying within two to four car lengths of Donavin Wiest all the way to the finish line.
Gartner won the hobby stocks feature while leading for just one lap. A.J. Davenport, Brent Vetter and Chris Welk Jr. all held the lead before Gartner slipped in front on the 13th lap. A third caution ended the race with two laps to go, making Gartner an instant winner.
Ken Sandberg led the pack for the first seven laps of the sport compacts feature. Then two cautions intervened, enabling Hanson to move in front on the eighth lap. That's where Hanson stayed, winning by about four lengths.
Friday's racing program attracted 131 cars. There were 36 street stocks, followed by 30 modifieds, 27 hobby stocks, 22 legends and 16 sport compacts.
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