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Snowmobile racing: Dyrdahl wins I-500

Bryan Dyrdahl (on his sled) and his teammates celebrate Drydahl's fifth Red Lake I-500 victory. (Photo: USCC)

Bryan Dyrdahl won his first USCC Red Lake I-500 snowmobile race on his 21st birthday.

"That was a wild night," Dyrdahl said.

Winning for the first time is hard to top, he admitted, but I-500 victory No. 5 came on a special day, too. While celebrating another birthday -- his 30th -- on Sunday, the Bagley, Minn., driver rode his Ski-Doo to another checkered flag.

No other driver has won more than three I-500 titles. In winning the race for the second straight year, Dyrdahl picked up his fifth.

Dyrdahl overcame some midrace troubles Sunday to finish the three-day event, which covered about 450 miles, in 6 hours, 19 minutes, 44 seconds. Second-place finisher DJ Ekre of Shevlin, Minn., was 1 minute, 40 seconds back in 6:21:24 on his Arctic Cat.

"With these races like this, you never know you're going to win it until you cross the line," Dyrdahl said.

Midway through the 148-mile course Sunday, a belt on Dyrdahl's yellow sled exploded. He jumped off and fixed it in about 30 to 45 seconds to maintain his lead.

"I don't know if it was 30 seconds," Dyrdahl said of the unwanted stoppage. "It seemed like it took a lot longer than that. . . . I'm prepared for it. I have a little tool that I have tied right next to my clutch to open the secondary clutch to get the belt off fast."

But a lot of things popped through his head before he learned the belt had exploded.

"It could wrap around your crank shaft or it could take your crank seal out," he said of a belt. "If it takes your crank seal out, it will blow up. I got lucky today, though, the belt pretty much exploded."

So it was an easy repair, and Dyrdahl cruised in to the finish at Seven Clans Casino for his third USCC win in as many events this season.

The quick fix didn't allow Ekre or Corey Davidson, who finished third on his Polaris in 6:21.54, to mount a threat.

Dyrdahl won nearly $20,000 in prize money, including $10,000 from the USCC.

"It's a good day," Dyrdahl said. "You can't ask for a better day."

Ekre was impressed.

"He just doesn't make mistakes," Ekre said of Dyrdahl. "He knows how to get his sled to work and he knows how to finish."

Other titles Sunday went to Sam Vandeputte (semi-pro and semi-pro improved), Davidson (veteran), Jon Arneson (masters 40-plus), Paul Dick (legends 50), Brian Carey Sr. (440), Brett Lessman (sport 85), Jolene Bute (women's), Marty Feil (fan 660), Adam Brandt (600) and Sara Larson (120 improved and 120 stock).