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AUTO RACING: Thrilling finish in Seitz opener

A.J. Diemel (58) and Chad Mahder (55) race Thursday night Sept. 5, 2013, during the seventh annual John Seitz Memorial Late Model Invitational at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D..JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD

Pat Doar doesn't race regularly at River Cities Speedway. But the New Richmond, Wis., driver may want to reconsider his race schedule.

Doar won the opening feature of the seventh annual John Seitz Memorial Late Model Invitational at the quarter-mile track Thursday night, edging RCS regular Brad Seng by 0.134 seconds in the 25-lap main event that wasn't decided until the final corner.

The race served as the regular season finale for the NLRA season and also as a tune-up for the Seitz Memorial, which kicks into high gear tonight and finishes Saturday with a 92-lap feature that pay $9,200 to win. There were 42 drivers from around the region on hand for the opening night.

Doar and Seng both are Seitz winners. And both showed they'll likely be in contention for another title.

Doar, who started sixth, passed Chad Mahder for the lead out of Turn 2 on an early restart. Doar then held a relatively comfortable lead until Seng put on a hard charge from his 11th starting position.

The two were side-by-side on the back-straightaway in the closing laps but Doar managed to hang on.

Doar has run well just about every time he shows up at RCS. He won a regular season feature at the track a couple of weeks ago.

"I love this place," said Doar. "Stuff happens so fast on this track. But you can race all over here. There are not many tracks like this one."

Doar wasn't surprised that Seng made a late charge.

"Being in the lead, I could kind of dictate the way he raced," said Doar.

It was Doar's 247th career win.

Seng finished second in the NLRA season points race as well. Dustin Strand, who finished 12th in the feature, won the NLRA title.

A.J. Diemel finished third, followed by Adam Hensel and Mahder.

In addition to Seng, Bill Mooney was the next highest RCS finisher as the Winnipeg driver finished 11th.

Mark Dobmeier won the 25-lap sprints feature, overtaking Austin Pierce for the lead on a restart on Lap 13. Wade Nygaard finished second, followed by Pierce, Chris Ranten and Chris Shirek.

The lightning sprints also raced, with Dexter Dvergsten of Greenbush, Minn., capturing the feature.

With the conclusion of the NLRA season, the Seitz Memorial weekend now hits high gear, with the focus switching to Saturday night's A-Main.

Last year's winner, Wisconsin driver Brady Smith, will be aiming for a repeat title. He said the race is one of the more demanding ones in the region.

"It's definitely one of the toughest races in WISSOTA, if not the toughest," said Smith, who won't make his first appearance until tonight.

Smith has had success at RCS as well, winning a World of Outlaws Late Model Series race in 2006.

"It's one of my favorite race tracks in the country," he said. "It's an aggressive-driving race track but it's a track where you can race all over."

The key to Saturday night's feature on the quarter-mile track, he said, is simple.

"You have to stay out of trouble," he said. "Contact with other race cars, whether they're lapped cars or cars racing for position, is not good for your car."

Tonight's program includes heat races for the late models, capped by a dash that will set the first few rows for Saturday night's 92-lap A-Main. Modifieds, Midwest Modifieds and streets also will race complete shows tonight.

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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