Johnson an All-Star in Rockford Victory
By Craig McCay
Loves Park, IL- Former National Short Track Championship Winner Casey Johnson returned to victory lane following Saturday Night’s Kar Korner All-Star 100 for the ARCA Midwest Tour Super Late Models at Rockford Speedway. In doing so, Johnson became just the fifth driver to win the Big Three at Rockford, joining the likes of Shear, Trickle, Schill and Hoffman in the 72 year old record book as having won Spring Classic, the All-Star 100 and NSTC.
Former Track Champion Jake Gille took command of the early race, bolting to the lead ahead of his front row mate Rich Bickle, Jr. Gille’s night came to an abrupt end when the rear suspension gave way collecting a number of cars and ending the night for Steve Rubeck and Ricky Baker in addition to Gille. Following a brief red flag, Bickle inherited the top spot ahead of John DeAngelis, Jr, Paul Shafer, Jr and Casey Johnson. By the fifteenth circuit, fast qualifier Austin Nason had muscled his way into third from his eleventh starting spot and set his sights on the lead duo of Bickle and Johnson.
Rookie of the Year contender Ryan Farrell no sooner made his way to the top five when an oil fire filled the front of his machine with big flames and plenty of smoke. Farrell would return to action, many laps down. Once racing resumed, it took Nason four laps to secure the lead on lap 25, and it appeared the race was now for second as Nason checked out on the field. Rear end issues bit the defending All-Star 100 winner as Nason’s car fell off the pace on lap 42, he would be joined in the infield two laps later when motor issues bit defending track Champion Jon Reynolds, Jr’s X machine, bringing out the caution. A red flag would follow the attempted restart as Shafer slammed the outside wall coming to the green flag, collecting Brad Kossow and fifth place Justin Mondiek.
Another Rookie contender, Carson Kvapil had slowly made his way towards the front, landing inside the top five a quarter of the way through the contest. With the mishaps of his fellow running mates, Kvapil now found himself on Bickle’s back bumper. The former All-Star 100 and NSTC winner briefly fell to second on the scoreboard as Kvapil charged to his inside and into the lead on lap 46. That lead was short lived as Bickle hustled back around Kvapil two laps later with Johnson in tow. With 35 laps remaining Johnson darted to the inside of Bickle and into the lead. Johnson survived two more restarts, one for a solo spin and another involving then third place running Bickle and fourth place running John Beale with eleven laps to go. Kvapil, who had moved into second by the final caution, hounded Johnson, even tapping the rear bumper of the 47 machine a couple of times but was unable to pass for the lead.
Johnson and Kvapil were joined in the top five by Kossow, Kahler and DeAngelis. The top three and DeAngelis all took their cars to the attention of their crews at some point during the 100 lap marathon event that took over an hour and twenty minutes to complete, while Max Kahler who won the NASCAR Late Model Star Spangled 76 earlier in the evening posted a top five effort in his first career Super Late Model run. Seven-Time Rockford Speedway Champion Ricky ‘The Rocket’ Bilderback layed claim to the top honors in the Celebrity Spectacular Drags.
The ‘Stars and Cars’ of the ARCA Midwest Tour return to action on Saturday Night July 27 at State Park Speedway in Wausau, WI. They will compete in the Larry Detjens 125, part of the Larry Detjens Memorial Weekend at the quarter mile paved oval. Qualifying is slated for 4:30 with racing action beginning at 6pm. For additional information visit www.midwesttour.racing