Brendan Mullen has led laps before at River Cities Speedway. And he’s challenged for a win at The Bullring in the past few seasons as well.
Finally, however, it all came together for the 18-year-old on Friday night as Mullen won his first sprint feature at RCS -- a win coming during the season opener at the quarter-mile track.
Mullen started on the pole but had to survive a handful of challenges from Nick Omdahl and Austin Pierce before the driver of the No. 11 sprint could finally roll into Victory Lane. It was his fourth overall sprint feature win of his career, but this one carried the most weight since it came on his home track.
Mullen has been driving a 410 sprint for the past few seasons, learning each season as he is a teammate of Wade Nygaard -- a driver with more than 200 career wins.
In Victory Lane, Mullen was all smiles after aggressively holding off the 19-car field.
“I grew up in Nygaard’s trailer and I’ve seen Wade down here getting interviewed my whole life,” said Mullen. “It feels good to be down here and looking up instead of being back in the pits scratching my head and feeling like, ‘Oh, man, we were fast but …’ ”
The last 12 laps of the 25-lap feature stayed green and Mullen never let up, beating Omdahl to the checkered flag by 0.696 seconds. Pierce finished third. Pierce, last season’s track champion, was challenging for the lead early in the race but slipped off Turn 3. He was in 16th place on the restart but drove up to third.
Nygaard finished fourth while Tom Egeland rounded out the top five.
Mullen also turned in the fastest lap at 11.336 seconds, that time coming on the first circuit.
“It was definitely tricky to find a lane to run,” said Mullen. “Me and Omdahl were switching spots a lot out there.”
For the first night of the season, track conditions were fast. In sprint time trials, Jade Hastings posted the quick time for the sprints -- 10.497 seconds.
Lance Schill captured the 20-lap late model feature, leading from start to finish. Schill held off Dustin Strand by 0.426 seconds and posted the fastest lap time -- 14.026 seconds.
Shane Edginton finished third, followed by Brad Seng and Joey Pederson.
In the streets feature, Joe Potter made a return to Victory Lane after leading all 15 laps.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been here,” said Potter as he climbed out of his No. 10 street.
Eleven years. His last win at RCS came in 2010.
Potter was never threatened. The caution flag came out with five laps to go but on the restart, Potter posted the fastest lap time of the race -- 14.848 seconds. He beat Nick Minske to the flag stand by 1.574 seconds. Chase Boen finished third, followed by James Meagher and Ryan Johnson.
Jory Berg captured the Midwest modifieds feature, taking the lead from Scott Bintz with two laps to go. Berg held off Bintz by 0.758 seconds. Jamie Dietler was third. Preston Carr and Nate Reynolds round out the top five.
For the season opener, the car counts in all four classes were healthy. And the cool temperatures didn’t affect attendance that much.
When the final checkered flag was waved at 9:58 p.m., the temperature at RCS was 46 degrees.
River Cities Speedway
First heat -- 1. Greg Jose; 2. Chase Boen; 3. Josh Barker
Second heat -- 1. John Halvorson; 2. Cody Armstrong; 3. Josh Barker
Third heat -- 1. Ryan Johnson; 2. Nick Minske; 3. Joe Potter
Feature -- 1. Potter; 2. Minske; 3. Boen; 4. James Meagher; 5. Johnson
First heat -- 1. Jamie Dietzler; 2. Nate Reynolds; 3. Jory Berg
Second heat -- 1. Reise Stenberg; 2. Scott Bintz; 3. Preston Carr
Feature -- 1. Berg; 2. Bintz; 3. Dietzler; 4. Carr; 5. Reynolds
First heat -- 1. Zach Omdahl; 2. Wade Nygaard; 3. Jack Croaker
Second heat -- 1. Nick Ranten; 2. Austin Pierce; 3. Jade Hastings
Third heat -- 1. Brendan Mullen; 2. Nick Omdah; 3. Blake Egeland
Feature -- 1. Mullen; 2. Omdahl; 3. Pierce; 4. Nygaard; 5. Tom Egeland
First heat -- 1. Shane Edginton; 2. Tom Corcoran; 3. Steve Anderson
Second heat -- 1. Brad Seng; 2. Dustin Strand; 3. Brady Pengilly
Third heat -- 1. Joey Pederson; 2. Lance Schill; 3. Brody Troftgruben
Feature -- 1. Schill; 2. Strand; 3. Edginton; 4. Seng; 5. Pederson