It's hard enough to win a stock car race, let alone pick up victories at multiple tracks. And to compete for a points title at multiple speedways is a challenge on another level. But following wins on consecutive nights in Montevideo and Madison, Mike Jans of Clarkfield is putting that challenge to the test.
The wins, coming July 19 at Fiesta City Speedway in Montevideo and July 20 at Madison Speedway, ended a month-long drought for Jans in victory lane and help reestablish his chance at a points title in the Wissota Street division at both tracks.
With 383 points as of July 19, Jans held a nine point lead over Darrin Landmark and Jordan Tollakson in Montevideo, while his 218 points in Madison trail Tollakson by just three.
Not only did the back-to-back victories keep Jans in the hunt for the points titles, they also ended winning droughts of two months in Montevideo and one month in Madison.
"We won four to start the season then went a month without winning one, then won back-to-back races," Jans said.
Jans jumped out of the gates at both tracks, winning the first two races of the season at both venues. On May 10 and 15, Jans took first place in Montevideo, while scoring victories on June 1 and 15 in Madison.
Finishes in the top five helped Jans stay in the hunt during his time away from the winner's circle, while three second-place finishes in a row in Montevideo allowed Jans to maintain his lead.
Everything came together for Jans last weekend, as he managed to take advantage of a favorable draw on Friday and superb track conditions on Saturday.
"Friday night I just drew really well. I didn't have to pass a car all night, so that worked out well," Jans said. "(In Madison) they just had a great track that was good for passing, so we came from a ways back in that one."
Both wins also came at a crucial point in the racing season. With the finish line in sight, every point matters when aiming for a points title.
With just six races remaining in Montevideo and a nine-point lead in the standings, Jans knows just what he has to do to hold off a late-season charge from Tollakson and Landmark.
"Just be consistent. Trying to be in the top three every night will make it pretty possible," Jans said.
Jans has the opposite problem up in Madison. Instead of trying to hold on to a lead, he has just five races to make up the three points separating himself and Tollakson.
"I'm going to have to win a couple more races for sure, in order to beat him," Jans said. "Probably three more would be my guess."
On occasion Jans also takes the track at KRA Speedway in Willmar, though things haven't gone quite as well there as his other two destinations. Jans was 15th in the points in Willmar as of July 17, but the lower total can be explained by fewer appearances by Jans at KRA.
"We go to Willmar about half the time because it gets to be a lot, going three nights in a row," Jans said.
Jans also commented that winning makes everything easier, even racing three nights in a row, so perhaps continued success in Montevideo and Madison could result in more participation in Willmar.
"It's always easier to go more often when you don't have as much to fix," he said.