It was all Manitoba on the front row at the start, as Mike Martin, driver of the No. 55 Reimer Overhead Door Pierce, and six-time series winner Kevin Sexton, driver of the No. 57 DAB's Repair Bloomquist, lead the field to the green.
Strand, who started third, went three-wide with the aforementioned Manitoba duo in turns one and two at the start.
Sexton lead at the conclusion of the opening lap, with Martin and Strand in tow.
The top three continued to cycle around the four-tenths mile oval, as a battle of the Shanes commenced.
Shane Holden driver of the No. 11JR Union Insurance Rocket, and Shane Edginton, driver of the No. 4 General Signs Victory, battled side-by-side early on.
Strand used the bottom to pass Martin, then set his sights on Sexton for the lead.
On the fifth circuit, it was Canadians on the top of the track, and Americans on the bottom, as Brad Seng, driver of the No. 12S S&S Transport MB Custom, followed Strand around the bottom as Strand went for the lead.
Dustin Strand at speed on Thursday in Winnipeg.
Speedway Shots photo.
The first caution of the event soon followed, re-stacking the field for a Delaware style restart. Strand continued to lead after the restart as Sexton and Seng swapped sliders for second.
Seng eventually won the battle for the runner-up spot, allowing Edginton to move in on Sexton for the final spot on the podium. Another yellow flag flew at the halfway point, as the field re-assembled for another double file restart with 13 laps remaining.
Every spot from second to fifth were up for grabs on the restart, as Seng and Edginton battled for second, and Sexton and Mike Balcaen, driver of the No. 10 Enns Brothers Black Diamond, went door-to-door for fourth.
This pair of battles highlighted the action for the duration of the event, but it was the Sexton-Balcaen battle that was going to get very interesting as Bill Mooney, driver of the No. 2 OMG Candy MasterSbilt, went three-wide with the other two in three and four with five remaining.
On the backstretch on the next round, however, Mooney's bad luck streak would continue, as he had a left rear tire explode, sending him into the infield.
Strand continued on unchallenged, scoring his second Red River Co-op Speedway win in a row. Edginton and Seng completed the podium respectively, while Sexton and Balcaen rounded out the top five.
Ryan Corbett, driver of the No. C4 Corbett Trucking MasterSbilt, finished sixth. He also was the hard charger, improving twelve spots after starting 18th. Red River Co-op regulars Mike Martin and Shane Holden finished seventh and eight respectively. Rookie Jesse Teunis, driver of the No. 70 Grand Prix Amusements MasterSbilt, scored his best finish with the series in his young career, coming home ninth. Troy Schill rounded out the top ten in the No. 11 Mid Ag Dispatch MasterSbilt.
Strand said after the race, "we got lucky and drew front row for the heat, which helps a bunch. He continued on to say about the feature, "I was kinda worried with Kevin [Sexton] on the front row on the outside, he's pretty good when there's some dig on the top. But, we were able to roll around the bottom of him, and once I got up to the top of one and two, and kinda run the middle of three and four. The car was awesome."
The area was blanketed by a thick haze from the Western Canadian wildfires, which kept the track stickier than normal. Strand said of the track, "After last week we had some things we wanted to try on the car, I thought we were really gonna have something for them, but we never got to try it, cause the track didn't quite slick off like we were hoping. It was actually fairly racy, but the top was definitely the dominant lane."
NLRA series action continues this Saturday night, August the 25th, at the Greenbush Race Park in Greenbush, MN.
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