JEFFERSON, Wis. (June 21) – On a day when all teams had to weather the early rain storms, Casey Johnson had to ride out a storm of his own to claim his first TUNDRA Super Late Model Series feature win. Johnson kept poised through several botched starts and melees to set himself up for a quick run to the front in Saturday’s Round Three at Jefferson Speedway.
The two-time Jefferson Champion eventually restarted in sixth on a lap two, carefully picked his way through the top three and worked his way past early-race leader Mike Lichtfeld on lap 14.
“I’ve been coming here all my life. When the Super Lates come it’s awesome, so to win this is something special,” Johnson explained to a large and enthusiastic crowd. “We couldn’t ask for much more. All of my family and everyone I know are out here, so it’s pretty awesome.”
Originally 13th on the starting grid, Johnson became the fourth fast qualifier to win the feature in a TUNDRA event. Frank Kreyer, Dalton Zehr and Corey Jankowski all accomplished the feat in the series’ first season at Dells Raceway Park in 2011.
For the drivers who would find themselves in the front of the feature, patience was key at the start. Two incidents marred the beginning of the feature event. First Billy Mohn and Steve Rubeck made contact while going for the same plot of real estate in turn one. After another start was called off, one lap was completed before Bobby Kendall and Brent Strelka were victims of the same circumstance.
Eventually the field began to log laps when Brandon Selle and Lichtfeld led the field to green. Just behind Lichtfeld and Ryan Farrell, Johnson jumped to third on lap three. By lap five Johnson was to second and setting his sights on the early-race leader Lichtfeld.
Quick advances were also being made by TUNDRA point leader Eugene Gregorich Jr., defending Champion Nick Panitzke and Dalton Zehr. Panitzke and Zehr struggled during qualifying earlier in the day, and started in the two spots behind Johnson – 15th and 17th.
Sensing Johnson was about to break away, Gregorich weaved his way to fourth by lap seven. As he began to put pressure on Farrell for third, Johnson caught Lichtfeld and began to survey his opportunities. As he had done so many times before at Wisconsin’s Action Track Johnson waited for the right moment to claim the inside line. After two laps of dispute Johnson took the lead and started to build his advantage.
“Mike raced me awesome,” Johnson said of his battle for the lead. “Sometimes it’s tough to tell with the newcomers coming in here if they’ll know how to race you.”
Six laps after Johnson took the lead the yellow came down again for a spin by Steve Lichtfeld. Johnson had no trouble getting away from Mike Lichtfeld, leaving battles for positions in the top five in his rear view mirror. Farrell began to test Lichtfeld for second while Panitzke went to work on Gregorich for fifth behind Majeski.
On lap 22 Gregorich snapped loose heading into turn one below Panitzke. He washed up, made contact with Panitzke, who went spinning. Gregorich eventually gave the gentlemen’s agreement, giving Panitzke his position back, while the TUNDRA point leader would go to the tail for the restart.
Before the green fell again Farrell surrendered his second spot with a mechanical issue. Through all of the shake up, Majeski moved to second, and was on the inside line of Johnson when the field was set free from caution again. Just as he did with Lichtfeld, Johnson was able to turn back the challenge of Majeski.
The top two broke away from the pack over the next green flag run leaving Lichtfeld to deal with Panitzke and Dalton Zehr. That run lasted until the midway point of the feature when Corey Jankowski went spinning in turn three.
Once again Johnson proved strong on the restart. Although Majeski held even going into turns three and four, Johnson eventually got away. Panitzke took advantage of the restart to grab third from Lichtfeld and Dalton Zehr eventually grabbed fourth.
The final shred of adversity came for Johnson when he caught lapped traffic with 15 laps to go. Majeski made up some ground, but would eventually lose it once Johnson was clear. The lapped traffic helped Panitzke catch up, but he could not mount a challenge.
Just after Johnson and the top five took the white flag, the yellow came out for a spin in turn two involving Ty James, Reagan May and Kendall. The race was deemed official and Johnson finally could lay claim to a Super Late Model win at his home track.
Majeski held on for second, Nick Panitzke third, Dalton Zehr fourth and Mike Lichtfeld rounded out the top five.
The next event for the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series is Round Four Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes at Norway Speedway. It will be the first time in the series’ four-year history that it will travel across state lines.
Norway Speedway is located on the Dickinson County Fairgrounds on Highway 8 just outside of Norway, Michigan. For more information visit http://www.norwayspeedway.com
The Unified Northern Drivers Racing Association (TUNDRA) Super Late Model Series was formed in 2011 as the Alive For Five Super Late Model Series at Dells Raceway Park. TUNDRA’s business plan is based on a sustainable program for promoters and race teams alike, while still providing high-quality Super Late Model entertainment to fans.
For more information on TUNDRA including news, results and the 2014 standings, archived results and standings, and more visit http://www.tundrasuperlates.com. Also, interact with us on Facebook (facebook.com/TundraSuperLateModels) or Twitter (@TUNDRAslms).