Pederson and Matt Smith, and his No. 86 Polar Industries Capital, lead the field to the green at the start of the race.
But it was the third starting Schatz that charged to the lead, passing Smith on the backstretch, then edging out Pederson at the line at the conclusion of the opening round.
Schatz and Pederson circulated around the bottom of the high-banked quarter-mile bullring, as Ryan Corbett moved the No. C4 Corbett Trucking MasterSbilt to the inside of Smith for the final spot on the podium.
Corbett went on to take the spot on the fifth round, but the pair was joined by Wisconsin veteran Pat Doar, as he inched the No. 11 Kivi Brothers Trucking Rocket XR1 into a three-way struggle for the third spot.
Just before the halfway point, Doar became the newest holder of the third position, moving past both Smith and Corbett for the spot on the eleventh lap.
Behind them, another door-to-door battle was sorting itself out, as Brad Seng, driver of the No. 12S Bergstrom Electric MB Custom, and arguably the fastest driver on tour heading into the night, Shane Edginton, and his No. 4 Schill Construction Victory, kept pace with the trio fighting for third during the first half of the race.
Donny Schatz (15) and Joey Pederson (7P) battle for the lead at River Cities last Friday. Mike Spieker photo.
While those spots were up for grabs, so was the lead, as Schatz and Pederson caught the back of the field with seven laps remaining.
Pederson was able to pull even to Schatz's inside for a few laps as the pair worked through the lapped traffic, but Schatz was able to put a pair of lappers between himself and Pederson with three laps left.
Schatz held on for the victory, as the green-to-checkered affair took just six minutes to complete. Pederson held on for second, as Edginton made on last pass on Doar for third at the line. Ryan Corbett rounded out the top five.
Brad Seng was sixth, with Matt Smith seventh, and Bill Mooney eighth in the No. 2 Lithia Toyota of Grand Forks MasterSbilt by JMR.
Dustin Strand rebounded from misfortune in his heat race to finish ninth in the No. 71 Q&Z Plumbing & Heating Millenium SRT, winning the hard charger honors after starting 22nd. Mike Balcaen rounded out the top ten in the No. 10 Enns Brothers Black Diamond.
Schatz, who went on to finish fourth in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car main event, said after his victory, "Nobody was as surprised as me, when we started that race, that we were as good as we were on the bottom. I think it was just a byproduct of starting that far forward, and in that lane, because we took off, and the car felt really good, and we went around the bottom of [turns] one and two, passed a couple cars. Had to stay there, really, until we got to lapped traffic, and I knew if I didn't, someone was gonna be motoring around us."
Matt Smith, Donny Schatz, and Joey Pederson were the heat winners. 22 cars were in attendance at River Cities on Friday night. NLRA series action continues on Saturday night, June the 15th, as the series makes it's second visit of the season to the Devils Lake Speedway near Crary, ND.
The NLRA would like to thank Tour Sponsors: Adams Automotive & Machine, S&S Transport, Gateway Cenex, Millar Engines, Wes' Plumbing & Heating, White Water Truck Wash, On The Edge Graphics, Anderson Brother's Body Shop, Smitty's Transmission, Fastenal, El Roco Nightclub & Bottleshop, Hart Attack Racing, Residual Materials, Generous Gerry's, Gold & Silver Exchange, Gateway Sportz, Grand Forks Subaru/Kia, BOSS Signs & Graphics, Forum Printing, Fastlane Racing Equipment, Q&Z Plumbing, A&L Siding, Bank Forward, Hugo's Wine & Spirits, Day Dreams, Play It Again Sports, Red Wing Shoes, Speedway Shots, Country Financial, Katie Marcotte Century 21, and Contingency Sponsors: CMD Shocks, Hoosier Tire North, Mars Race Cars, Performance Auto, Speedway International Fuel, Schaeffer's Oil & Lubricants, for their support.
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