The wins are his fifth and sixth of the season in NLRA action, and his tenth and eleventh with the series overall, as he now sits tied for seventh on the all-time wins list.
He will head into the final four races of the season with the opportunity to tie and or break the record for wins in a single season, currently held by the late John Seitz, at seven victories. Strand has also won six of the last eight NLRA events, five of them have been sweeps, including four in a row.
Strand and Shane Edginton, driver of the No. 4 Performance Auto Victory by Moyer, paced the field, with Strand leading into turn one. Edginton spun in turn two, nearly collecting Bill Mooney and his No. 2 Winnipeg Hearing Certres MasterSbilt, as the whole field did a fantastic job avoiding Edginton.
Mooney moved to the front row after Edginton moved to the rear of the field. Mooney spun his tires on the green, and Mike Balcaen moved the No. 10 Enns Brothers Black Diamond by for second, as Strand opened up a lead of nearly a straightaway.
Mooney moved back by Balcaen for second up top on lap three as Brad Seng in the No. 12S S&S Transport MB Custom and Tom Corcoran in the No. T1 D&B Motors Rocket, rounded out the top five.
Mooney closed in on Strand, as Seng closed his disadvantage to Balcaen, going door-to-door on lap five. Seng took third on lap seven, and as that battle played out, Strand had regained his straightaway edge, despite having to work through lapped traffic.
Dustin Strand (71) and Joey Pederson (7P) battle for the lead at River Cities. Mike Spieker photo.
With eleven laps remaining, Cole Schill's incredible charge from 13th saw him put the No. 44 Mid Ag Dispatch MasterSbilt into the top five, then move past Seng for fourth in traffic. After that the leaders ran with the same 15 car lenght intervals between themselves for the remainder of the event as Strand cruised to victory.
Strand told track announcer Darren Pallen after the win "The car was awesome, I kinda screwed the car up in the heat race there, I was way too tight and I was kinda in the way there, but we ended up pulling it off. The track was really good for the feature, I was worried the heat race was kinda narrow, pretty wide open there, but it was nice for the features. I appreciate all the fans for coming out."
He continued, "It was fun, I tell you, it helps we redrew the front, that definitely helps, and we had to deal with a little lap traffic at the end, but the car has been awesome."
Pallen then asked about running in traffic and if it's a "terror", and Strand replied, "Well yes and no, when the car is good like tonight, my car could pretty much run anywhere and a lot of times I kinda like to see lap cars, if we can sneak through there and get lost in there, maybe the other guys will get held up, but it can go both ways."
Edginton, Corcoran, and Strand won the heats. 20 cars made the trip to Winnipeg.
Friday night at River Cities, Strand and Mooney, who have seemingly been attached at the hip this month, lead the field to the green once again, this time with Mooney taking the advantage into turn one. Mooney lead the first two circuits as Joey Pederson, driver of the No. 7P Dahlstrom Motors MB Custom, took second from strand and set his sights on Mooney for the lead. Pederson took the point on lap three, running the low side as Strand and Mooney began a dogfight for second with the latter taking his customary rim riding approach.
Strand took second at the completion of lap four as Pederson had built a bit of a lead that Strand quickly erased as Pederson went high in three and four, as Strand pulled to his inside. The top three went three wide in one and two on lap six, but remained in the same order as Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 K3 Farms Rocket, tried to make it a four car party out front.
Donny Schatz (15) and Bill Mooney (2) battle for position during the main event. Mike Spieker photo.
After a caution shortly thereafter, Strand chose the inside on the double file restart, and continued to chase Pederson for the lead as Schatz moved to third, and Jeff Hapala, driver of the No. 16S City Parcel Delivery Rocket, began to battle with Mooney for fourth.
Strand dove low in two, and grabbed the lead from Pederson on lap seven, as Schatz closed to go door-to-door with Pederson for the runner-up spot. The top three broke away from the rest of the field, all running the bottom.
Strand remained the leader, as Pederson chose the low side on the double file restart. As the top three again broke away from the field, Mooney and Hapala went door-to-door for fourth, while Jeffrey Massingill, driver of the No. 6M Tesar Engines Club 29, and Jamestown winners Edginton & Zach Naastad, driver of the No. Z17 Q&Z Plumbing & Heating Millenium, went three wide for sixth. Hapala and Naastad came out ahead in those battles, until Mooney retook fourth at the line on lap with twelve laps remaining. Massingill peeked to the inside of Naastad to keep sixth up for discussion.
Mooney and Hapala were able to switch lines, as the pair lined up with Mooney on the bottom and Hapala on the cushion after the previous restart. With each driver in their preferred line, the continued they epic struggle for fourth, as the leaders, once again, saw the back of the field in their sights. Strand and Pederson were able to start lapping on the bottom, but Schatz had to spit a pair of lappers in turn two to keep pace.
As Strand said in victory lane one night prior, lapped traffic can go either way. On Thursday night in Winnipeg, it went his way. On this night, nearly the exact opposite, as he came to lap Adam Fischer, the pair made contact one in between turns one and two, and again on the backstretch, causing Fischer to spin, but Strand was able to continue unharmed after the contact.
Pederson again chose the bottom on the final double file restart, as Mooney harassed Schatz for third. Mooney remained the only car in the top four to run the top as Schatz took third back and challenged Pederson for second. As Schatz took second from Pederson, the final battle inside the top five saw Naastad challenge Mooney low for fourth in the waning laps. Schatz closed to the back bumper of Strand, but didn't have enough laps left to make a serious charge for the victory. Pederson, Mooney, and Naastad rounded out the top five.
Pederson, Mooney and Strand won the heats. 21 cars attended River Cities on Friday.
Series action continues with a Labor Day triple header this weekend, as the series travels to the Viking Speedway in Alexandria, MN for the traditional Labor Day Double, then heads back to River Cities on Monday evening for a 5 pm Labor Day Start. Every fan who comes out on Monday receives a free ticket to the Prelude to the Johnny at River Cities on September 8th.
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