Bill Balog is living a dream in 2024. Traveling the country with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars has been a lifelong goal, but he doesn’t want to simply say he’s a part of The Greatest Show on Dirt. He wants to make an impact.

And that’s exactly what he’s done early in 2024.

The Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year candidate has established himself as a nightly contender. Through eight races, Balog has qualified sixth or better on five occasions, made four Toyota Dashes, and bagged five top 10s, including a season-best fourth this past weekend at Kennedale. Four of those top 10s have come in the last four races as the Wisconsin transplant by way of Alaska has found a rhythm.

“I guess top 10s were my goal and still are,” Balog said. “I think that’s realistic. If everything goes really good, that’s a realistic goal. Obviously, you get greedy and now I want top fives and want to win. It’s been good, but I haven’t been able to stay where I start each night. I started on the front row the other night and ended up fourth. I want to at least stay where I started.

“There’s a lot of pressure. This is something I’ve always wanted to do my whole life. Now that I’m doing it, I don’t want to waste any of it or squander any positions. I’m really paying attention and trying to make the right decisions and use whatever resources I have to make this work. I don’t want to waste any of it, and there might be something to that. Like I said, we’re still kind of wanting to at least stay where we started or pass some of these guys. It’s just a lot easier said than done.”

One of the most important pieces to Balog’s start is Qualifying. Any Sprint Car driver will tell you that your lap time to start the program can make or break your night. It can be the difference between setting yourself in prime position for a Dash birth or playing catch up all through the program.

Balog has slotted himself in the top five of the Qualifying charts on four occasions. His best effort of the season is third on two occasions. Those kinds of Qualifying efforts lead to front row starting spots in the Heat and make an easier path to the Dash. Balog credits staying on top of track conditions for his fast laps so far in 2024.

“Some of these racetracks kind of remind me of our tracks in Wisconsin,” Balog explained. “If you go out there before Qualifying and you have a plan, you know your car is going to be good. That’s a big part of it. I think if you push off and don’t have a good idea of what’s going on, you’re not going to qualify well. Everything’s just been working good for us. Like I said, I’m just trying to make the right decisions or at least get as close as I can. I’m really happy with the way we’ve been qualifying.”

Bill Balog driving the #17B Sprint Car at Volusia Speedway Park
Bill Balog is off to a strong start in his rookie World of Outlaws season (Trent Gower Photo)

Even with the impressive start, the beginning of the season has still presented its challenges. Nothing in Sprint Car Racing compares to the nine-month, coast-to-coast grind of The Greatest Show on Dirt. It’s non-stop from state to state and track to track. It’s not easy for the organizations with an abundance of resources that have been doing it year after year, let alone a new team with an owner/driver like Balog.

“I should’ve decided to do this a lot earlier than I did,” Balog said with a laugh. “It’s just been 100 miles per hour since I made the decision in December. You’ve got to look a lot further ahead into the future. I’m not just a weekend racer anymore. Definitely a lot of preparation and a lot of planning that goes into this.”

Balog has plenty of time to adapt to the lifestyle and preparation required for the campaign. He’s eight races into an 86-night campaign.

And as Balog continues to tackle the tour, the 44-year-old is armed with plenty of perspective. He knows he’s not at the beginning of his racing career. He knows time is limited in the racing world. But right now, he’s living out his dream with the World of Outlaws. He’s ready to work as hard as possible to deliver a rookie season to remember.

“It’s not like I’m 20 years old and got all kinds of time to do this,” Balog said. “I think, more than anything, I’m going to try to keep my head down, keep my mouth shut, do what I’m supposed to be doing, try to be clean, but also kind of race these guys how they race you. So, I think if I can do those things, I should be fine.”

Balog’s rookie campaign continues this weekend with visits to Thunderbird Speedway (Muskogee, OK) on March 29 and 81 Speedway (Wichita, KS) on March 30. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.