BRANDON, S.D. – During opening night at Huset’s Speedway on May 9, Justin Henderson felt he let a win get away from him after tangling with a lapped car and spinning out of the lead.
On Sunday, returning to the three-eighths-mile South Dakota dirt track, Henderson wrote his redemption story by dominating the night’s 25-lap Northern Outlaw Sprint Ass’n feature.
Henderson put four wheels over the cushion in ripping around Carson McCarl for the lead on lap two, then never faltered on five restarts during the main event en route to his maiden NOSA victory.
The victory made Henderson the 63rd different driver to win a NOSA sprint car feature and marked the second first-time winner of the weekend after Brian Brown topped Friday’s race at Jackson (Minn.) Motorplex. It was also Henderson’s 10th career 410 sprint car triumph at Huset’s overall.
“It was a little bit tricky up top there, truth be told,” admitted the driver of the Mike Sandvig Racing No. 7 sprint car. “I didn’t think that big of a slab was a good idea to bounce right over the top of before we took off and upset the car and everything … but we had such a good Powersports.com, Eszlinger Electric, Morton Buildings race car. I’m more so out of breath from celebrating, if you can believe that.
“What a fantastic race track this turned out to be. It’s definitely a hard on race cars; none of the owners are a fan of that, but I had nothing to lose,” Henderson added. “It was game on from the word go.”
In recalling the pass that gave him the race lead for good, Henderson’s description was short and sweet.
“Marbles,” tipped the 2002 Huset’s Speedway 410 sprint car champion. “Big marbles.”
Red-flag periods on the initial start, lap seven and lap 11 created a segmented feel to the 25-lapper, but the biggest moment was the race-opening crash that saw the scheduled front row eliminated from contention right off the bat.
In separate incidents, polesitter Matt Juhl spun in turn two, while outside polesitter Skylar Prochaska flipped coming off the exit of the corner as the field scattered around the duo.
Prochaska was done for the evening at that point, while Juhl restarted from the tail of the field. That reset the front row with McCarl inside and Wade Nygaard outside, but the battle was on quickly as Henderson came calling from sixth on the adjusted grid.
McCarl led the opening lap when racing resumed, but with a tap to the outside wall in turn one and a rocket ship of a car, Henderson put himself in front the next time around and was never headed again.
A double flip with six laps scored saw Riley Goodno and Jack Croaker both get upside down while racing for fifth place. That was followed by Brendan Mullen going wheels up in turn two on the 12th rotation.
Neither incident fazed Henderson, who jetted away each time, and also mastered restarts with nine and seven laps to go, respectively, after spins by fourth-running Austin Pierce and 13th-placed Colin Smith.
The final seven-lap run to the checkered flag saw McCarl try to reel in Henderson, to no avail.
“We got to traffic there in the beginning and I started to catch him, and I felt like I was kind of catching him there at the end too, but I just kept making mistakes on the curb there and lifted up pretty good,” lamented McCarl. “I’m happy, though. We’ve had a little bit of a rough start to the year and it’s always good to be on the frontstretch [with a podium finish], but I’m a little disappointed because we had a lot of shots at Henderson on restarts there.
“[After] starting on the pole [for the second green flag], it’s a bit disappointing not to get the job done.”
Cody Ledger filled out the podium, just ahead of hard charger Jack Dover, who advanced from 23rd on the grid to a fourth-place finish.
Jody Rosenboom crossed the line fifth, with Dusty Zomer, Wade Nygaard, Matt Juhl, Tim Estenson and Jade Hastings closing the top 10.
1. 7-Justin Henderson, 2. 27-Carson McCarl, 3. 35L-Cody Ledger, 4. 81-Jack Dover, 5. 14-Jody Rosenboom, 6. ACE-Dusty Zomer, 7. 9n-Wade Nygaard, 8. 2ks-Matt Juhl, 9. 14t-Tim Estenson, 10. 8h-Jade Hastings, 11. 20a-Jordan Adams, 12. 16-Greg Bakker, 13. 4k-Kris Spitz, 14. 2a-Austin Pierce, 15. 05-Colin Smith, 16. 17-Zach Omdahl, 17. 47-Brant O’Banion, 18. 11m-Brendan Mullen, 19. 101-Chuck McGillivray, 20. 8-Jack Croaker, 21. 22-Riley Goodno, 22. 33-James Broty, 23. 35-Skylar Prochaska, 24. 26-Blake Egeland.