We were guaranteed a new New Zealand Sprintcar Champion on Saturday night at the Robertson Holden International Speedway.
With defending champion, USA teenage sensation Buddy Kofoid back in America preparing for Chili Bowl Nationals, it was down to 22 of New Zealand's best and former World of Outlaws Sprintcar Craig Dollansky to compete for the 50th running of the prestigious event.
Local young guns Dean Cooper (84p) and Jamie Larsen (2nzp) made their intentions clear in the first qualifying heats with blitzing performances.
Eight time NZ Midget Champion, Michael Pickens (3nza) and former two-time NZ Sprintcar Champion, Rodney Wood (51m) picked up the heat wins in round two of qualifying.
The drivers' points were added together from their two qualifying races, and with a little bit of rulebook drama thrown in for good measure, the final grid was set with 22 of the 23 cars set to get dirty for 30 in the winner take all 50th New Zealand Sprintcar Championship 30 lap feature.
The front row consisted of two former national champions, with Kāpiti's Jamie Larsen from pole position and Bayparks Rodney Wood from grid 2.
The King of the Springs Michael Pickens went from grid 3, with the man who won the last feature before the NZ title, Keaton Damn (88m), from grid 4.
In row 3 Jamie Duff (19c) and Dean Brindle (22a) starting side by side for the event, both drivers have won at the Robertson Holden International Speedway.
As the green dropped and a high line now formed, Larsen was quick to move from his pole position start and throw the car high into turn one in front of Wood, to set the pace of the race.
This was short lived, though, as on completion of lap 1, USA driver Craig Dollansky (7USA) got loose and made contact with Greg Pickerill (18p) sending him into the oncoming Caleb Baughan (59c), propelling Baughan into a spectacular roll and out of the title race.
This would be the only caution of the race. Once the restart was on the cards, Wood was much more alert to get the jump on the start but once again Larsen slid up the inside into turn one and took full advantage of a clear track ahead.
Larsen kept it high as the laps fell and he made his way through the lapped traffic giving his team heart-stopper moments on a few occasions, clipping the wall out of turn four and narrowly avoiding a spinning car.
As Larsen had caught the mid-pack bunch to lap, Pickens had made the move on Wood and positioned himself in second place, catching Larsen and even having a dive on the exit of turn two as Larsen was made to work for a moment with lap cars.
But once again Larsen got through, put the loud pedal back down and cleared off to lead all 30 laps and once again be crowned the New Zealand Sprintcar Champion.
Pickens held onto second to also move up one spot on last year's podium and Wood claimed the third and final spot to add a 3nz to his previous 1nz's.
The doubters were expecting a crash fest on the narrow Palmy track, but were proved wrong with the track in great race condition and at stages three racing lines in which Larsen showed his class up high for the most of it.
For the small Kāpiti team they were stoked to come out on top at their home track and once again have the 1nz on the car.
Also on the cards were two Superstock teams' races with the Manawatū Mustangs taking on the Stratford Scrappers and the Palmerston North Panthers up against the Wanganui Warriors.
In a shock to the crowd, both Palmerston North teams took heavy losses and with the big ENZED Team Champs only three weeks away the selectors will be scratching their heads when picking the final teams.
This week at the Robertson Holden International Speedway there is the PN Partsworld Superstock Global Challenge with drivers from Australia, UK and USA joining the kiwis.
A Stockcar teams race between the Palmerston North Pumas and Wellington Young Guns, as well as the Manawatū Adult Ministock Champs. Racing starts 6.30pm.