GRAND FORKS, N.D. (September 21, 2023) – The final night of the 2023 season with the Northern Outlaw Sprint Association at River Cities Speedway started inauspiciously for Brendan Mullen and the crew of the Native Nations Cannabis / Knife River No. 11M when an engine failure in hot laps lead to an engine swap early on in the night.
It was track championship night at River Cities where the heat races are set by season points, setting Mullen up with a starting spot on the outside of the front row in the first heat race.
Mullen had just set the second fastest time of the hot lap session, a 10.614 second lap which was just .076 second behind the man he was set to share the front row of the heat race with, Mark Dobmeier, when smoke started to show from the engine compartment of Mullen’s mount as he exited turn two for the final time in the session.
This happened just before 6:30 but 15-minutes later, the car was being pushed into the trailer in order to replace the broken engine with the new power plant. At 7:16 the final zeus fasteners were put back in the bodywork as a quick warm up for this engine followed.
Crews from the teams of Jack Croaker, Jade Hastings, Weston Olson, Nick Omdahl, and Zach Omdahl all pitched in to help Mullen and his crew make the swap. Thanks to all the crews that lent a hand.
Following a successful two-lap trial, Mullen returned to the track at 7:39, taking his spot on the front row of the heat race. Mullen finished third in his heat, setting up a fifth-place start in the final 25-lap main event of the 2023 campaign.
Mullen held fifth through the first lap but was passed by Croaker on lap three, falling briefly outside of the top five. Mullen regained the spot on the following lap as the leaders were already starting to work lapped traffic.
Mullen was closing in on Austin Pierce for fourth before the leaders started working thicker traffic through ten laps. Mullen was reeling in Pierce again for fourth before the only caution of the race set up a single file restart with ten to go.
Mullen improved to fourth on the restart as early leader Jade Hastings fell out of the race. Once Mullen held off Zach Omdahl to keep the fourth spot, he began to reel in Pierce and Nick Omdahl one more time and what would have been a three-car battle for the second spot.
Mullen ran out of laps, finishing fourth just a car length away from the battle for second. The race night marked Mullen’s 54th of the season, breaking his mark set two years ago at 53. Mullen finished third in both the NOSA series and River Cities track points standings.
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