CAMBRIDGE — The ARCA Midwest Tour made its return to Jefferson Speedway on a warm evening in south central Wisconsin. Qualifying took place at Wisconsin’s Action Track under sunny skies and 80 degrees, with all 20 cars knowing they would be all locked into the running of The Salute The Troops 100. Drivers were laying it out all on the line with Austin Nason setting quick time with a 13.661, picking up his second fast qualifier award with the “Stars and Cars.”
The evenings qualifying heat race was won by Scott Koerner, leading every lap with excitement behind him throughout the 10-lap race. The odd and even dashes were fully inverted from qualifying times and with tour points on the line for the 2019 championship run.
Exciting racing is what fans received with Andrew Morrissey holding off Paul Shafer Jr. and Ryan Farrell in a three-car break away in the odd dash. The great crowd on hand at Jefferson Speedway would witness a back forth knuckle to knuckle battle between five-time Jefferson Speedway Champion Dale Nottestad and traveling star John DeAngelis Jr. The two would race side-by-side for a handful of laps, until the white flag flew with Nottestad picking up the checkered.
The fastest car in practice Casey Johnson would round out the top three.
The salute the troops 100 started with all 20 drivers shaking hands with the men and women that have served this great nation past and present. A youngster in Gabe Sommers and short track racing Hall of Famer Rich Bickle Jr. would lead the field to green. Bickle paced the field 17 laps holding off charges from Carson Kvapil and last year’s winner, Shafer, from his fourth starting spot would take the lead on lap 18. Two laps later yellow would slow the field for a solo spinning John DeAngelis Jr.
The restart would see Johnson and Shafer race side-by-side until Johnson would grab the top stop on lap 25 with Shafer, Bickle, Kvapil and Nottestad in the rear views.
The two would drive away from the rest of the field and finally Johnson was able to put three car lengths on Shafer on lap 40, the field would stay single file through the top five at the halfway point on lap 60 then top 10 running Ryan Farrell made a miraculous save after something breaking on his machine the track would stay green and Farrell would make it to infield safely. Lap 70 would see Johnson lapping into the top ten putting Brad Keith down a lap to the fast paced hundred-lapper. Lap eighty saw a great battle for sixth between Morrissey and Kvapil a straight-away in front of them Beale and Bickle were side-by-side for fourth until contact between them would slow the field on lap 86.
The restart would see Johnson pulling away and Nason taking over second five laps later Nason the night’s fast qualifier would stalk Johnson and the two would pull away from the field. The battle for third was on between Kvapil and Shafer. The final five laps the crowd was on the edge of their seat seeing Johnson taking home his second career Midwest Tour victory over a hard charging Nason. Third place went to Shafer at the line by a nose over Kvapil, and Morrissey picking up his 34th top five series history.
The weekly Jefferson Speedway Late Models were on hand to compete in a special night of events. The Late Model Showdown Match Raced pitted drivers against each other in a one-on-one tournament format to crown an overall champion.
Fort Atkinson’s Jason Erickson bested Stephen Scheel to advance to the championship round and face off with Shaun Scheel of Lake Mills. After knocking off five-time champion, Dale Nottestad, Scheel won the coin toss to choose his starting lane against Erickson for the best of three championship round. Erickson took control of the first five lap shootout on lap two, hanging on to win by a car length. Round two began with Erickson once again moving out front and beginning to pull away slightly. Erickson maintained his advantage, crossing under the checkers with a three-car length lead to capture the overall title.
All Late Model drivers entered in the Showdown also competed in a 30-lap Throwdown to cap their evening. Dylan Schuyler grabbed the early lead with Josh Madell battling Michael Grueneberg for second. Madell spun on lap two to bring out the sole caution of the race. Schuyler led the pack back to green with Grueneberg in second and Jerry Eckhardt up to third. Will Rece moved past Eckhardt to pick up the third spot on lap five.
A few laps later, Gruenberg dove under Schuyler, looking to lead. Rece watched intently from third as Schuyler and Grueneberg battled for control. Schuyler reclaimed the point on lap 17, opening the door for Rece to charge up next to Grueneberg. Rece continued to slide forward, drawing even with Schuyler on lap 20. A lap later, Rece was out front alone as he began to stretch his advantage. Rece held the lead through the checkers to claim the win with Schuyler settling for second. Rounding out the top five were Stephen Scheel, Grueneberg and Shaun Scheel.
A.J. Accardi claimed the 20-lap Road Warrior feature event. R.J. Nicholson led early from the pole as Accardi quickly made his way into the top three. On lap six, Accardi drove to the high side of the leader, Nicholson. After a brief battle, Accardi slid out front and began to pull away. Mark Dewey made a late race charge up to second, but Accardi was already well on his way to victory lane with the win.
At the checkers, it was Accardi out front followed by Dewey, Nicholson, Bill Sweeney and Bill Reynolds.
This Saturday, June 1, is a full program of racing in six divisions with time trials at 5 p.m. and racing at 7.
Jefferson Speedway is located halfway between Jefferson and Cambridge on Hwy 18. Please visit jeffersonspeedway.com for more information.