In just his second season competing in the Big 8 Series, 18-year-old Austin Nason picked up his first Big 8 Series win on Sunday night at the Slinger Super Speedway in Slinger, Wisconsin.
Nason held off challenges from from Casey Johnson, Jesse Bernhagen and Jon Reynolds Jr. to win the King of the High Banks 68 at the World’s Fastest Quarter-Mile Oval.
“We had a good car and got to the front fast,” Nason said after the race. “It feels good to get my first Big 8 Series win. We almost won at La Crosse last year when Chris Marek and I went at it. We came up short, but we came back and been in the top five in every race this year and we will keep going.”
Nason started 11th and by lap 15 was up to fourth. He grabbed third by lap 30 when the caution flew for J. Herbst’s spin in turn two. During the caution, Fred Nason, Austin’s dad, got on the radio and reminded him to be patient because there were still 34 laps to go. The elder Nason knew that the second-generation driver was eager to get to the front.
On the restart, Nason got by Bernhagen for second and then set his sights on early leader Casey Johnson, who started on the pole.
On lap 41, Nason got a good run off of turn four and went to the inside of Johnson to challenge for the lead. Johnson and Nason would swap the lead back and fourth three times.
Jon Reynolds Jr. joined the battle on lap 51 as he made a bold move by making it three-wide move for a moment into turn three. In the drama, Johnson got shuffled back to third, but it was Nason taking the lead with Reynolds behind him.
With 10 laps to go, Reynolds was following Nason’s track around the 33-degree banked turns at Slinger until his engine let go. It ended his chance for a third straight Big 8 Series win.
Casey Johsnon moved up to second and ran out of time as Nason would take the big win. Bernhagen finished third.
“I’m happy with the run. The car wasn’t a second place car,” Johnson told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.com. “I was hanging on there as long as I could. I am happy to take second today.”
Bernhagen struggled with his car all night, but was happy with a podium finish.
“We were real good in the first 20 laps, but after the first caution we lost some grip,” Bernhagen said. “After the second or third caution, it started to get better, but we struggled getting past lap traffic. Once Nason got around us, there was really nothing else going for us. We had a top five car, but it got so tight in the center near the end, we couldn’t catch the leaders.”
Dale Nottestad was fourth and Jerry Eckhardt, who is in his 49th year of racing, finished fifth.
The Big 8 Series will now have a break until September 12 & 13 when they return to action at Jefferson Speedway in Jefferson, Wisconsin for the Wisconsin State Championships.
By Kevin Ramsell @kevinramsell – Midwest Editor for Speed51.com
Big 8 Series
King of the High Banks 68
1. Austin Nason
2. Casey Johnson
3. Jesse Bernhagen
4. Dale Nottestad
5. Jerry Eckhardt
6. John DeAngelis Jr.
7. Jeff Holtz
8. Dave Edwards
9. Tyler Schley
10. Grant Griesbach
11. Danny Church
12. J. Herbst
13. Kevin Knuese
14. Tim Sargent
15. Jake Gille
16. John Reynolds Jr.
17. Alex Prunty
18. Steve Dobratz
19. Wayne Freimund
20. Mike Meyerhofer
21. Casey Strese
22. Gregg Pawelski
23. Mike Ehde
24. Ricky Heinan