Balcaen's win is his 23rd series victory, third best on the all-time list, while Schill's win is his first NLRA series triumph, the 51st driver on series history to win a feature. Both drivers lead from flag-to-flag en route to their victories. Schill is also the second new winner in as many weeks, as Zach Naastad won his first NLRA series feature in June 11th at the Jamestown Speedway.
Balcaen said in victory lane "you need to get back on the horse" and back on the horse he was, as he lead all 20 laps of the main event on Friday night. Balcaen returned to the speedway just one week after one of the uglier wrecks you'll see in a late model, ending with his helmet rolling down the banking of the quarter-mile.
Balcaen began the night on a vengeance, as he won his heat race from the seventh starting spot, a tall task, as the track was fast all night.
Balcaen lead Brad Seng, driver of the No. 12S S&S Transport MB Custom, by less than a second as the pair approached lapped traffic on lap seven. The pair maneuvered around the slower cars for the next six circuits before the events only caution came out with seven laps remaining.
Robert Bladow spun his No. 00 Primitive Place K&K Racing GRT, collecting Dustin Strand and his No. 71 Q&Z Plumbing & Heating Millenium, Donny Schatz in his No. 15 K3 Farms Rocket, and Bill Mooney's No. 2 Winnipeg Hearing Centres MasterSbilt. Strand was able to continue, while Schatz and Mooney left the track on the hook.
NLRA point leader Steffen Snare (71S) and Donny Schatz (15) battle for position at River Cities Mike Spieker photo.
Shane Edginton, finished sixth in the No. 4 Performance Auto Victory, with Ryan Corbett, driver of the No. C4 Corbett Trucking MasterSbilt, in seventh, Jason Storbakken, driver of the Storbakken & Sons Const. No. 16S in eighth, and Jeff Hapala, bringing the No. 16S Auto Solutions Rocket home in ninth. Steve Moen, filling in for Joey Pederson, in the No. 7P Dahlstrom Motors MB Custom, started 16th, to round out the top ten in his first race at River Cities since August 16, 2000, and his first NLRA feature in a nearly decade.
Balcaen, Seng, and Snare won the heat races. 19 cars were in attendance. Jacob Wilde, in just his second night behind the wheel of his No. 5 Millenium Late Model was the hard charger, improving seven spots from the 19th and final starting spot to finish twelfth.
On Saturday night, Cole Schill lead all 25 laps Saturday night en route to winning his first NLRA series feature at the Greenbush Race Park in Greenbush, MN. The race went 25 laps caution free after a yellow on the initial start. Although Schill lead every lap, he was the leader by a nose on the first three rounds, as Brad Seng kept pace early. Schill actually wasn't the leader the first time around turn four, but got a bite off the top, and muscled around Seng at the flag stand on the opening lap. Seng got a little loose on the exit of turn two on lap four, allowing Schill to build a ten car length advantage.
Cole Schill (44) and Brad Seng (12S) race for the lead at Greenbush on Saturday night. Mike Spieker photo.
As Schill and Seng continued to make laps, going around lapped traffic on the high groove. Shane Edginton made steady progress through the field.
Edginton made his way to eighth at the completion of lap one, and joined a battle with Rob Odegard, Steffen Snare, and Tom Corcoran. When all was said and done, Edginton had made his way to sixth in just four laps.
Schill completed the race in just over six minutes, as he ran a lap in the mid 15 second bracket on the newly resurfaced, and higher banked track that measures just under three-tenths of a mile.
After Seng and Edginton passed under the checkers, the pair of 16's Jeff Hapala and Jason Storbakken, and Steffen Snare, exited turn four for the final time three-wide. Hapala took fourth at the line, with Storbakken and Snare finishing fifth and sixth respectively. Snare left Greenbush as the new NLRA series point leader.
Mike Balcaen finished seventh, with Rob Odegard, driver of the Dynamic Well Service R30 in eighth, Tom Corcoran, driver of the No. T1 D&B Motors Rocket in ninth, and Mike Martin, driver of the No. 55 Reimer Overhead Door Pierce, rounding out the top ten. Schill and Seng won the heats, 14 cars were in attendance.
Both tracks had some rough spots, but when factored in with all the rain both track received in the hours leading up to both programs, and that it was just night three for the new surface in Greenbush, the tracks were reasonably good. Hats of to the crews at both tracks to not only get the tracks in shape, but to get the pits worked in also.
The series begins a four race stretch this Wednesday night at the Norman County Raceway in Ada, MN. The series retuns to Ada again on Thursday night, before making its' return to the Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, ND on Friday night. The stretch concludes on Saturday night at the River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, ND.
Mike Spieker photos.