Jeff Holtz rolled into the legendary Rockford Speedway in Loves Park, Illinois on Saturday afternoon just hoping to survive and go on to the next race. At the end of the night, he had the famous Speedway’s horseshoe wreath around him with a trophy in hand. He added his name to the long list of winners by winning the 23rd edition of the the ARCA Midwest Tour’s All-Star 100.
“We were going to be happy with a top-ten in qualifying and a top-ten finish. That was actually our game plan in all of these races this year,” a smiling Holtz said after the race. “We have been struggling in the first couple of races and we changed cars. This is the car.”
Holtz started up front and was the early leader in the 100-lap event around the famous quarter-mile oval. He would give up the top spot when Trent Snyder took the lead on a restart on lap three after a Mikie Breiner spin in turn two.
He would fall back to third until another caution flew on lap 23 when Mike Olson and Chris Weinkauf got together in turn four that also collected Austin Nason.
On the restart, current ARCAMT point leader Ty Majeski made his way to the front from his ninth starting spot and would get by Ricky Baker for the lead on lap 24. Holtz would follow and settle in the second spot.
Majeski would get a comfortable lead over Holtz until lap 54, when he was trying to put Chris Weinkauf a lap down coming off of turn two.
As Majeski came off of two, he would dive to the inside to pass Weinkauf. At the same time, Weinkauf also went to the bottom to allow Majeski take the preferred high line. The two would get together going into turn three, where Majeski’s car climbed up on Weinkauf’s until the two came to a stop in the turn three wall. Majeski would end his night with a 15th place finish.
“My thought process was that we were going to get past Jake Finney’s car and I thought he (Weinkauf) would yield, but he did two corners and kept sliding up. So I decided to go to the bottom, and I guess he decided to go to the bottom at the same time and ran out of real estate,” Majeski told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “He came up to me and said it doesn’t do justice now but he said ‘I apologize’ and that was it. It is what it is, its racing.”
Weinkauf was offered to give his side of the story but politely declined to be interviewed.
Holtz had a good view of the leader wrecking in front of him.
“I hit my brakes as hard as I could, because I could see that happening,” Holtz recalled. “I was like oh boy! That was unfortunate for Ty. He definitely had a little better car than I had, but I will take it when I can get it. I might have been a second place car, but hey I won.”
Holtz really wasn’t contested for the lead after that and drove to a 3.299-second victory over Casey Johnson.
Johnson came into the third event of the season 48 points behind Majeski in the standings. With Majeski and Andrew Morrissey, who was second in points, each having a bad night, it was a good points night.
But, he had to come through the field three times in the race, to earn the runner-up spot.
Johnson started 11th and spun on lap 19. He worked his way up to third and was battling Snyder for second on lap 60, when the two made contact in turn three. He was able to pull away but had to re-join the field at the back.
He would pass Paul Shafer Jr for second on lap 86, but would run out of laps chasing down Holtz.
“After Ty pulled off, I think we had the best car. I had to pick and choose if we try to chase him down or wait for a yellow,” Johnson said. “I figured if we tried to run him down, we would have burned it up too bad, so we waited for the yellow and never got one.”
Shafer, who was also the fast qualifier, came from his 13th starting position to finish third.
“I talked to Larry Schuler (former All-Star 100 winner) before the race and he is an expert. He has won everywhere and has been around for a long time. He said here at Rockford, what makes you so good is you run in there and fill in any open gap,” Shafer explained. “I took that advice and every time they moved up track, I filled the hole. I look up and I am fifth on the board. I ended up third, can’t complain it’s a great night especially after the season we have had. We are learning more and more every time we go out.”
Baker would finish fourth with Jon Reynolds Jr. finishing fifth.
Reynolds would also win a special best two out of three match race against Majeski to collect a $2,000 bonus.
For Holtz, this is a memorable victory.
“This is unbelievable. I really have to thank my crew. I have a family and they have a family and it’s tough to make the time to make these things go fast. I couldn’t ask for nothing else.
“It’s sinking in a little bit, but it will be good for a few weeks.”
Holtz adds his name to a list of winners that includes: Dick Trickle, Joe Shear, Mark Martin, Bobby Allison, Trent Snyder, Erik Jones and more.
The ARCA Midwest Tour will go from the smallest track they compete on to the largest on Saturday, June 25th for a 50-mile event at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois.
For more information about this event, please visit 51’s Speed Central at: http://speed51.com/speed-central-arca-midwest-tour-rockford-speedway-il-61116/
-By Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Contributor
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
ARCA MIDWEST TOUR
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