Mike Balcaen picks up big NLRA Dirt Late Model win on World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series night.
By Mike Spieker
GRAND FORKS, ND (June 20)- After an incredibly rough start to the season, Mike Balcaen picked up that elusive victory Friday night at River Cities Speedway. It was no walk in the park, however. Balcaen had to battle the two-time Seitz Memorial champion, Brad Seng, and the 2011 World of Outlaws Late Models rookie of the year, Pat Doar.
The three drivers swapped the lead back and forth multiple times throughout the first half of the 25 lap feature, until the caution waved on lap 18. On the restart, Balcaen, Doar, and Seng went three wide for the lead off of turn two. Seng, being the meat in the sandwich, backed out of the gas early in turn three which left Balcaen and Doar racing side-by-side for the top spot. Doar ran in the thick cushion on the top of the speedway, but Balcaen found the tacky dirt right around the berm on the bottom and claimed the lead. Balcaen went on to lead the final six circuits around the dry-slick 3/10th mile track to take the victory in front of the sold out grandstands.
The win was Balcaen's 206th career feature win, but this one might have meant a bit more given his recent string of terrible luck. Through the first three races of the season at RCS, Balcaen was running in the top three in the feature when he had to retire from the event due to mechanical problems. The first two cases were the result of an overheating engine, the third instance happened when Balcaen was leading on a rough, tacky track and hit a hole in turn three which broke the engine fan loose and caused it to get lodged into the radiator. But the veteran Canadian driver proved he has put all the bad luck behind him and will be a force to be reckoned with the remainder of the season.
Ricky Weiss wheeled his way from the 13th starting position to finish in the runner up spot, while Doar, Seng, and Steve Anderson rounded out the top five.
After a second place finish in his heat, Donny Schatz came home with a 10th place finish after starting 23rd.
The NLRA Late Models will have next Friday off at RCS, but will return to action on July 4th. As always, hot laps are at 6:30 with racing beginning at 7:30.
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