The last 72 hours have been up and down for Casey Johnson. Over the weekend, he won two big races at the 49th Annual National Short Track Championships at Rockford Speedway in Loves Park, Illinois.
Wednesday, he learned that one his NSTC 200 Super Late Model win will be going to Steve Rubeck, the driver who was scored second at the checkered flag Sunday.
Tuesday, the speedway distributed a press release stating that Johnson was disqualified over a carburetor issue. The track then pulled the release as Johnson questioned the disqualification. On Wednesday, the track made it official.
“It is done and over with,” Dave Deery, Rockford Speedway General Manager told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Johnson and his crew may not want to accept it, but the win has been taken away and awarded to Steve Rubeck.”
Kevin Rogers, the head tech official for the event, told Speed51.com that the decision to disqualify Johnson was based off an opinion from Holley Performance Products, who looked at the carburetor on Tuesday morning.
“After the race we looked at the carburetor of the top three. When we got to Johnson’s, we were looking at it and checking it over with our gauges and noticed the boosters were tipped back and at an aggressive angle,” Rogers explained. “We didn’t think that was correct. It was sent to Holley Performance Products and their opinion was that the boosters were tipped back and at an aggressive position to get better airflow. Our decision to disqualify was based on what Holley told us.”
Johnson disagrees with that assessment, noting that his carburetor builder told him that they were using the wrong gauges to measure the boosters.
“I was dumbfounded when they told me,” Johnson said. “Once I got more and more information from talking to others, I have a hard time believing that my carburetor was illegal. We ran it all year long and it has been teched over and over. Now its illegal?”
Johnson said that he has heard from other officials and carburetor builders also questioning the decision. But Rogers is standing by his decision, which is supported by the track.
“It was a great race and we thank the competitors for coming,” Rogers said. “It is sad that this happened, but we have a job to do and sometimes it is a tough job. We always continue to do our best and we will continue do that.”
Deery said that he believes this is the first time that the winner of the big race at NSTC has been disqualified.
Even though Johnson disagrees with the decision, he is satisfied that the win will be going to Steve Rubeck.
“If I am not going to be crowned, I am happy that Rubeck will get it,” Johnson said. “He has always been a class act, driving on a low budget and always works his butt off. So I am glad it is going to him.”
Rubeck led 191 of the 200 laps on Sunday and becomes the seventh driver to win the NSTC 200 more than once. He now adds his name with a list that includes Steve Carlson, Joe Shear, Eddie Hoffman, Dick Trickle, Jeremy Lepak and Rich Bickle, Jr.
Johnson congratulated Rubeck on his Facebook page. Rubeck gave his respects back to Johnson.
“Like I said before, you were the man Sunday and I tried almost everything to keep you back there. What ever the infraction was, it wasn’t what made it turn and drive off the corner and certainly not intentional.” Rubeck said in his Facebook post. “Damn glad I don’t have to arm wrestle for it. Thanks for the info Casey and get some at fest.”
For Johnson, he is moving on the Oktoberfest Race Weekend where he is hoping to wrap up his second Big 8 Series title in a row on Saturday. He will also be competing in the Dick Trickle 99 Super Late Model event on Friday at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, Wisconsin.
– By Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Midwest Editor. Featured photo credit: Stan Kalwasinski