WAUSAU, Wis. (Aug. 3) – There was no finishing second for Casey Johnson this time.
One week after a runner-up finish at State Park Speedway and after two seconds in TUNDRA Super Late Model Series features earlier this year, Johnson was back as a winner at the track and in the TUNDRA series, winning the 75-lap feature in a Saturday night show that was briefly slowed by rain but completed in its entirety.
The Edgerton hotshoe added to his credentials as one of the very best traveling racers in the state, winning his third career TUNDRA feature and extending his points lead in the series. Johnson also won his first TUNDRA feature at State Park and his first feature at the track since taking the 2018 Larry Detjens Memorial, and the win also marked his 80th career feature win.
Driving his black no. 5 car, he also picked up one spot after finishing second in this year’s Detjens Memorial just a week ago, when Gabe Sommers topped Johnson for the second time this month. Sommers also had won the previous TUNDRA race at Dells Raceway Park July 6th, outrunning Johnson in the North American Cup 75.
“Man it was just lights out,” said Johnson in a post-race interview with TUNDRA announcer Matt Panure. “We had our orange car out here last (week) and it was really good, this is my typical TUNDRA car so we brought it up and we unloaded (and practiced) and I thought, man, I think we brought the wrong one. So we made a pile of huge adjustments in the next couple sessions, and (after that) it was just lights out.”
Johnson took the lead on lap 48, getting inside Jordan DeVoy of Lake Geneva out of the fourth turn, and he set sail from there to win comfortably. Defending SPS TUNDRA winner Mark Mackesy finished second and DeVoy came in third after leading 38 of the first 47 laps.
Johnson had to patiently work his way to the front in a field of 26 cars. He started 14th in the feature as the fastest in Fred Mueller Qualifying, which was pushed back about an hour due to a rain shower just before time trials were scheduled to start. Qualifying eventually was completed for all four divisions, and racing began just over an hour after the original 6 p.m. scheduled start.
Johnson started out following Sommers forward for the first 25 laps until passing the youngster from Plover for sixth. He entered the top five on lap 27 getting by Waukesha’s Kevin Knuese, who started on the front row outside DeVoy.
DeVoy led the first 30 laps including through a pair of cautions. Colin Reffner and Mike Lichtfeld collecting in turn two on lap 17 to bring out the first yellow, and the race’s biggest incident came on lap 30 when Chad Butz and Rich Schumann Jr. rubbed racing for position, with Butz spinning in the middle of the backstretch. John Beale and Joel Theisen eventually had nowhere to go, and Theisen slid hard into Butz with the two sustaining the most damage and unable to continue.
DeVoy briefly lost the lead after the second restart on lap 31 as SPS veteran Jeremy Lepak got a good restart on the outside of the front row and cleared DeVoy for first. The race’s third and final yellow came on lap 36 though when Neil Knoblock’s car shut off in turn four, and Lepak’s night got worse shortly after.
Lepak chose the outside line on the restart, with DeVoy on the outside and Johnson lined up right behind him. This time DeVoy hung tough, even as Lepak held a slim lead at the line for four laps. DeVoy retook the lead on lap 40, with Johnson following him through to second. That set the stage for Johnson to take advantage when DeVoy slipped up out of the fourth turn on lap 48, and he quickly zipped by and went unchallenged the rest of the way.
A track champion at Wisconsin International Raceway and Jefferson Speedway and the defending TUNDRA champion, State Park Speedway has become another track that Johnson has quickly mastered.
“Well to be honest, it’s not like anywhere else we go, so every time we come here our notebook gets a little bit bigger,” said Johnson. “Now we finally have got a car, the last few times we’ve had a great car here, so we can build on a really good setup, and now I circle this one on the calendar and I can’t wait to get here.”
State Park regular Mackesy finished a strong second, his best finish of the year at the track and since his TUNDRA win last year in July. DeVoy also scored his best-ever TUNDRA finish, holding off a strong line of cars behind him including a number of SPS veterans, with Jordan Thiel, Justin Mondeik, Brock Heinrich and Travis Volm all lined up nose-to-tail right behind him.
“I think it was a really good night, we qualified good, we chased it all day…I’m pretty happy with how everything went,” said Mackesy after the race. The Wausau veteran also complimented his pit crew and Johnson, adding “I just told (SPS announcer Curt) Keene, dollar-for-dollar, I think that 5 guy, every time, all the time, with equal cars I think he can spank you just about anywhere.
“On the weekly show we’ve really been struggling with the Hoosier tires, so we just threw some different stuff at it,” Mackesy also said after the race. “It’s great to run good here with all these cars, 26 cars tonight, and there was some great, great equipment here tonight. There was no junk, so it feels really good to finish second.”
TUNDRA Super Late Models
Fast Qualifier: Casey Johnson, Edgerton, 13.653 sec.
Fast Dash: 1. Justin Mondeik, Gleason; 2. Brock Heinrich, Wausau; 3. Gabe Sommers, Plover; 4. Colin Reffner, Wisconsin Rapids; 5. Johnson
First Heat: 1. Cameron Clifford, Norway, Mich.; 2. Neil Knoblock, Wausau; 3. Joel Theisen, Maple Grove, Minn.; 4. Derek Doerr, Watertown; 5. Jordan Thiel, Darboy; 6. Sydney Wonderling, Glendale Heights, Ill.
Second Heat: 1. Corey Jankowski, Tomah; 2. Dennis Schmidt, Juneau; 3. Travis Volm, Mosinee; 4. Steve Lichtfeld, Portage; 5. John Beale, Verona; 6. Wyatt Brooks, Amherst
Third Heat: 1. Chad Butz, Green Bay; 2. Darek Gress, Neillsville; 3. Mike Lichtfeld, Pardeeville; 4. Jake Zellmer, Burlington; 5. Mark Mackesy, Wausau; 6. Rich Schumann Jr., Portage; 7. Jeremy Lepak, Ringle; 8. Jordan DeVoy, Lake Geneva; 9. Kevin Knuese, Waukesha
75-Lap Feature: 1. Johnson; 2. Mackesy; 3. DeVoy; 4. Theil; 5. Mondeik; 6. Heinrich; 7. T. Volm; 8. Sommers; 9. Brooks; 10. Zellmer; 11. Lepak; 12. Doerr; 13. Knoblock; 14. Schumann; 15. Reffner; 16. Jankowski; 17. Clifford; 18. Knuese; 19. S. Lichtfeld; 20. Schmidt; 21. Beale; 22. Gress; 23. Butz; 24. Theisen; 25. Wonderling; 26. M. Lichtfeld