Balog Makes His Own Racing History
BEAVER DAM, Wis. – Maybe for the first time in his racing career, Bill Balog felt a bit queasy before he took to the track Sept. 21 at Beaver Dam Raceway.
And being on the verge of history had little to do with it. Of course that didn’t help the matter.
“I wanted to throw up ever since I got here,” he said.
Balog’s next victory would be the 62nd of his career with the Bumper-to-Bumper IRA Outlaw 410 Sprint Car Series, breaking the tie between him and nine-time series champion Joe Roe. If that wasn’t pressure-packed enough, add World of Outlaw Sprint Car Series stars Ian Madsen and Lucas Wolfe into the fracas, along with two-time IRA champion Travis Whitney. That would make any driver nervous.
Balog couldn’t hide from it.
“There was some really good cars here tonight,” he said.
“When we got here, I saw some of those bigger haulers coming in here and thought this is going to be a little tougher than normal.”
After an intense 30-lap “A” main, Balog, “The North Pole Nightmare,” ended the nightmare he had earlier in the night, crossing the finish line first for the 17th time this season and for the record-breaking 62nd time in his career.
“I’m just happy to up here,” Balog said from victory lane. “To be in the same category as Joe Roe is awesome.
“It’s a pretty good feeling.”
It was Balog’s fifth victory in the series’ last seven races at Beaver Dam.
Balog tied the record a week earlier at the Plymouth Dirt Track in Plymouth, Wis. He was glad he didn’t have to wait long to break the record, not having to deal with that cloud over him as to when the historic victory would come. He and the fans of the series had to wait just a matter of days.
“It was a big deal,” he said about getting the historic victory on the first try. “It was one heavy night of pressure. Now we can go to Dodge County next week and really ring her out.”
Whitney went on finish second. Series rookie Jeremy Schultz was third, followed by Ian Madsen and Phil Mock. Lucas Wolfe finished 12th.
The night started with Balog flirting with a track record in qualifying. Balog completed one lap in 11.696 seconds. The record is 11.275, set in 2001 by World of Outlaw Sprint Car star Daryn Pittman.
The feature wasn’t as simple.
Steve Meyer led the first 21 laps of the “A” main and was able to use lapped traffic as a defense against the hard-charging Balog, who started the feature 10th. Balog moved from 10th to sixth in just one lap around the one-third mile dirt oval. He was fifth one lap later.
Twenty-two cars started the feature, which made maneuvering through the traffic around the track, at times, a bit difficult.
“With the track as heavy as it was I really didn’t think we’d have any kind of chance to pass that many cars,” Balog said. “We just got a really good start. The car was awesome. I knew if we could get out into clear air we’d be in pretty good shape.
“It was an awesome race.”