Two drivers have finished on the podium in both the Slinger Nationals and the Dixieland 250. One of them has been one of the top drivers in the country, Ty Majeski. The other driver? John DeAngelis Jr, who is quickly setting himself up as one of the drivers to beat in the Badger State.
The Hubertus, Wisconsin driver finished third at the Slinger Nationals to Matt Kenseth and Majeski on July 9, then followed it up with a late-race charge to an ARCA Midwest Tour career-best second-place finish to Majeski at the Dixieland 250 last week. His recent runs in his No. 7 have him excited to get to Friday night’s Howie Lettow Classic at Madison International Speedway.
“I’m pretty pumped up to say the least, I really can’t wait to get there,” DeAngelis told Speed51.com. “We’ve been having good runs and it’s about time to where it all comes together, I think. I’m hoping Friday night will be that night.”
DeAngelis shot on the scene at the Snowball Derby, when he qualified ninth and finished a respectable 13th after not making the race in his first two attempts. He then dominated the Joe Shear Classic at Madison before finishing sixth in the ARCA Midwest Tour opener.
He has since finished in the top 10 in all but one Midwest Tour race and sits third in points. Having only finished behind Matt Kenseth and Ty Majeski in the past two Wisconsin crown jewel races, he believes he can take the extra step and pick up his first Tour win at a track he was strong at back in April.
“It all started with the Derby,” DeAngelis said. “We built a new Fury Racecar and over the winter we decided, heck with it, let’s keep running it. We ran the Derby pretty well for not qualifying in a couple years back so we decided to build another one.
“We led almost all the laps at the Joe Shear Classic until Bubba (Pollard) had a little better strategy than we had,” added DeAngelis. “We started out strong there and we had good runs at Slinger and the Dixieland, I just finished behind NASCAR guys. I guess to finish third and second to them is really not that bad of a feat, but we just got to get that extra step ahead of them and finish in the number one spot.”
Looking back at last week’s Dixieland 250, DeAngelis has pinpointed one area his team needs to work on if they are to end Friday night in victory lane.
“We’ve got to look at our long run setup and hopefully make that a little better than what it’s been,” explained DeAngelis. “It’s been doing really well, but also we need to look at the short run stuff as in what Ty (Majeski) had at the Dixieland. He had really good short run stuff. I felt like we were a little better long run but cautions didn’t work in our favor. We’re going to have to see what we can do during practice to make the car quick and stable for long run and short run.”
Friday night’s race has extra meaning to DeAngelis. His crew chief Travis Dassow won the 2007 ASA Late Model Series Challenge Division championship with Howie Lettow calling the shots. With he and his team vastly improving and coming ever so close to picking up that first ARCA Midwest Tour win, to do it in the Howie Lettow Memorial against one of the strongest Midwest Tour fields in recent memory would give them a big confidence boost.
“Howie Lettow was a great crew chief, and right now my crew chief, Travis Dassow, he won a championship under the eye of Howie,” he said. “To win it for my crew chief that used to be a champion with Howie and to win it for my whole team is something that would be huge.
“Everybody puts a lot of time and sweat into what we do and it’s starting to show off with our second and third place runs and being at the top of the board in practice and stuff like that. It’s hard to close out that first big Tour win. I don’t care what anybody says but a tour win is a hard win to get with all the competition that there is, there’s a lot of good competition.”
Race fans unable to make the trip to Madison International Speedway tonight for the Howie Lettow Classic can watch the event live on Summer Thunder TV, presented by PFC Brakes. Click here to join the Speed51 Network today and watch tonight’s race.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51.com