After a rain out at the River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks one night prior, the series traveled an hour west to make their first of two scheduled stops at the Devils Lake Speedway, near Crary, ND.
A trio of Manitoba drivers swept the heat races, as Bill Mooney, driver of the No. 2 Lithia Toyota MasterSbilt by JMR, came back from a near disaster on lap one to pick up the win in the opening heat.
Shane Edginton, driver of the No. 4 Schill Construction Victory, and Balcaen, were the victors in heats two and three respectively, as Edginton and Mooney went on to re-draw front row starting positions for the main event.
Edginton and Mooney lead the field to the opening green of the 21st NLRA season, with the Manitoba trio going three-wide for the lead during the first pair of turns.
Edginton beat Balcaen back to the start/finish line at the end of the opening round, but Balcaen took command down the backstretch on lap two.
As Balcaen started to pull away, Dustin Strand, driver of the No. 71 Q&Z Plumbing & Heating Millenium SRT, closed in on Mooney for the final spot on the podium.
Mike Balcaen on his way to a heat win last Saturday night in Devils Lake. Mike Spieker photo.
Balcaen continued to lead on the restart, as Edginton and Strand waged war for the runner-up spot. Strand eventually settled into the second spot as the race neared the halfway point.
While Balcaen was cycling through lapped traffic with five laps remaining, he struck an infield yuke tire at the bottom of turn four, but it did little to quell Balcaen's blistering pace.
Balcaen contiuned on for his 24th series victory, fourth at Devils Lake, and first at the track since August of 2002. Strand and Edginton followed him home in second and third respectively.
Estevan, Saskatchewan native Jim Harris finished fourth in the TS&M Supply No. 17, and Kevin Robertson rounded out the top five in the H. Anderson Concrete 10R. Robertson was the hard charger, climbing ten spots, after starting 15th.
Brad Seng, driver of the No. 12S S&S Transport MB Custom, finished sixth, with Travis Robertson, seventh in the No. 1R Big Al's Construction MasterSbilt, and Bill Mooney in eight. Brody Troftgruben, driver of the No. 14 Gateway Auto Tech Rocket, and Troy Schill, driving the Todd's Electric No. 11, completed the top ten.
NLRA action resumes on June 15th at the River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, as the series will co-headline, for the first of three times, with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car series.
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