By Mike Spieker
GRAND FORKS, ND (April 29) - Mike Balcaen and Joey Pederson paced the stout field of WISSOTA Late Models to the green flag for the 20-lap A-main. Balcaen grabbed the early lead as defending NLRA series champion, Dustin Strand took second from Pederson.
Pederson hung with Strand in the fight for second, but Balcaen was setting a blazing pace and entered lapped traffic in just six laps. The first caution flew on lap seven, which put Strand and Pederson right on the rear bumper of Balcaen’s Black Diamond #10.
On the restart Strand reclaimed second over Pederson and set his sights on Balcaen down the back stretch. Strand entered turn three on the cushion, but cut the #71 down low in turn four and got a great run down the banking to take over the lead on the front straightaway.
Strand set sail and checked out as Pederson rallied past Balcaen for second, but as the white flag flew Balcaen's machine began to smoke and he quickly pulled off the racing surface to prevent any further damage to the powerplant. Balcaen would be credited with a disappointing 19th place finish.
At the line Strand won it over Pederson, Shane Edginton, Brad Seng, and Donny Schatz who made the trip from Salina, OK after the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series event was washed out.
Strand’s win breaks a tie for 10th with Doyle Erickson on the RCS Late Models wins list and now puts him tied for ninth with Harold Schill with eight victories.