The ARCA Midwest Tour season kicks off this weekend with the 8th annual Joe Shear Classic. Along with the excitement of the first race of the year, starting the season off in honor of the late Joe Shear, one of the greatest short track racers in the Midwest, is always something special for drivers.
“I’m excited to get the season started,” Chris Weinkauf told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Everyone always gets the shop blues waiting for the start of the season and Madison couldn’t be a better place to get it started with the Joe Shear Classic. Joe was a true short track racer and to be a part of such a prestigious race in this sport is something I hope I can be a part of for a long time. Shear had a talent and ability to take on the unique challenges that MIS throws at a driver and it would be awesome to be able to get a win there and be in the same category as him.”
“Besides all of the history that the Joe Shear Classic holds in itself, this race in 2012 was my first ever race in a Super Late Model,” said Ty Majeski, “So it’s special to come back to where I started and see how I’ve improved each year.”
The entry list for the Midwest Tour season opener holds some heavy hitters, including Majeski, the 2014 & 2015 Tour Champion, and last year’s Joe Shear Classic winner Johnny Sauter. Majeski has seen a lot of success so far this season, claiming wins at Speedweeks and The Rattler, however a Joe Shear Classic trophy is one that continues to elude the young driver.
“We’ve been racing down south a lot this ‘offseason.’ It’s fun to travel to new tracks and race against different competition, but it’ll be good to get back to our roots and start racing up in the Midwest again. We’ve had a great last couple of years and we hope to keep that momentum,” says Majeski. “In history, this race always has a really long green flag run, so it will be important to have a good race car on the long run.”
Meanwhile, Sauter says he feels a little pressure to pick up back-to-back Joe Shear Classic wins.
“Anytime you win a race there’s a little more pressure to come back and defend,” says Sauter. “It is a special race to me so I’m gonna give it all I’ve got. I feel like I have a decent baseline everywhere I go with my Super Late, but also know enough to know things are always subject to change, and fast.”
Others, like Chris Weinkauf, who finished third in the 2015 point standings, hope to play the role of spoiler in the 100-lap event and add their name to the list of Joe Shear Classis winners on Sunday afternoon.
“Just like every year, you will have to have a good car all the way to the end and I’m hoping we have something for everyone this year,” said Weinkauf.
ARCA Midwest Tour teams have practice on Saturday before the Joe Shear Classic 100 on Sunday. You can follow along with all the action from Madison International Speedway on Speed51.com’s Speed Central coverage, set to begin at 10:30 am CDT Sunday afternoon. Also, be sure to check back on Speed51.com and the Speed51 Network early next week for full highlights of the event.
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @Jwimm22
-Photo credit: Speed51.com