Balog Makes His Own Racing History
It took Balog to lap 10 before he got into the top three. One lap later he was in second. Then for the next 10 laps, Balog chased down and caught Meyer, but couldn’t pass him because of traffic.
Then with eight laps to go, Meyer slipped coming off Turn 2, opening the gap for Balog to drive his car through and off he went. In just a matter of a couple laps, with clear track in front of him, Balog opened up a straightaway lead. To him it was like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Balog had to make quick work because the race didn’t have a caution and took less than seven minutes to complete.
When the checkers flew, Balog made history and Roe was standing in victory lane waiting for the driver who broke his record that had stood for about a decade.
“I had the bar set pretty high,” Roe said. “Billy ran it down. It’s great. Records are made to be broke and it gave him something to shoot for. He earned it.”
Balog won the series’ Rookie of the Year title in 2005. The next season is when he won his first feature, doing so at Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonee, Wis. It took just seven years to get to No. 62.
Balog was excited to receive the No. 62 trophy from Roe. It meant a lot to him.
Meyer went on to finish sixth, followed by Blake Nimee, Robbie Pribnow, Tommy Sexton and Dave Uttech to round out the top 10. Local favorite Scotty Neitzel won the “B” main, while Meyer, Sexton and Whitney won the heat races.
“I’m just happy we got the win to be honest,” Balog said afterward. “But it’s awesome. I never thought we would’ve made it this far.
“I raced against Joe Roe in 2005 and I don’t think I beat him, ever. I never thought we’d come this far so I’m pretty happy.”
Balog grew up in Alaska then moved to Washington early in the 2000s. He raced 360 Sprint Cars and asphalt late models out west. He won a 360 championship in Alaska in 2000.
“We were doing well,” Balog said.
“We’ve come a long ways,” he added.
He moved to Wisconsin before the 2005 season because he wanted to race a 410 Sprint Car. He just wanted to be decent.
He wanted to run a 410, but didn’t have an open seat to jump into. His parents are originally from Wisconsin near Rice Lake, Wis.
A friend of his father’s raced together and the friend had a 410 Sprint Car. The friend knew Balog was looking for a car to drive so the offer was made to drive the car and Balog jumped right in.
In the years that followed, Balog learned and quickly became the driver to beat. He is the five-time defending series champion. He didn’t give any thought to becoming one of the series’ greatest drivers until this year.
“We knew we were going good the past few years,” Balog said. “But you never know. You just try to win the next one. I was just trying to get one at a time.”
“Then with Joe not racing anymore that helps,” he added with a smile.
There is still something for Balog to chase down: Roe’s nine championships. While it’d be nice, Balog just isn’t sure at this point. He’d still like to travel more, maybe try some more World of Outlaws shows.
“We’ll just do the best we can and see what happens,” he said. “I just hope we can keep doing this.”