KAUKAUNA, WI – Casey Johnson battled two foes late in Saturday’s TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Great Lakes Testing Round One at Wisconsin International Raceway. One was familiar, the other is one he’s getting to know very well.
Johnson chased down driver and protege Grant Thompson to take the lead after the halfway point of the 60-lap feature event. He then had to fend off fellow multiple-time TUNDRA Champion Dalton Zehr on a late restart to secure the win.
After battling on and off showers throughout the afternoon, the skies cleared in time for the 60-lap main event. Thompson, making his Super Late Model debut, and Riley Stenjem led the field to green and Thompson quickly secured the lead from the inside line. He held that spot until the midway point of the main event.
As Thompson built his advantage, Stenjem was left to deal with the duo that put on a dazzling display in TUNDRA’s last visit to WIR – Justin Mondeik and Dennis Prunty. Mondeik was the first to get past Stenjem, setting his sights on Thompson. However, on lap 7 a mechanical issue sidelined Mondeik and handed second to Prunty. He worked furiously to catch Thompson with Stenjem in tow.
While things were sorting themselves out in the top five, Casey Johnson was on the move. By lap 21 he had moved to fourth and began challenging Stenjem, making the pass on lap 23. Five laps later he powered past Prunty into second.
Quietly, Dalton Zehr was also picking his way through the field. Zehr missed the invert, but won his qualifying race and picked up speed throughout the day. He battled his way into the top five just before the halfway point. Unfortunately, there was some track position to make up, but Zehr kept clicking off quick laps.
Johnson tailed Thompson for the better part of five laps after catching him. Thompson held strong, forcing Johnson to bide his time. He would make his move on lap 35, sliding to the inside of Thompson as the duo hit lapped traffic. The traffic cleared just in time for Johnson to secure the top spot coming back to lap 36.
As Johnson solidified his spot up front, Zehr continued to chop his way through the top five. He moved past Stenjem on lap 43 and Prunty just a few laps later. Zehr quickly closed the gap on Thompson and swiped the spot with a dozen laps remaining.
It looked as though Zehr was closing the gap, but not quickly enough. He got his chance when a caution flew for an incident involving Darren Jackson and Colin Reffner.
After a botched restart, Johnson and Zehr were left to do battle. Johnson was able to power away from Zehr using the high line as Zehr was left to deal with Thompson. Several laps later the field settled again after an incident involving Brock Heinrich, who was experiencing mechanical issues, and Andy Monday.
On the single-file restart Johnson was able to get away cleanly, leaving Thompson to try to fight off Zehr. A slight bobble by Zehr coming off turn four allowed Thompson to jump back into the runner-up spot with two laps remaining. Zehr swept down low at the start finish line to try to take the spot back, but came up just short.
Behind the lead trio Dennis Prunty finished fourth and Riley Stenjem rounded out the top five.
In all, it was a banner day for the four-time and defending Champion Johnson. He nearly broke his own track record in qualifying, he was able to give his car owner Aaron Larson his first TUNDRA win on his birthday, his driver Thompson finished second, and he was able to snag a huge trophy for his daughter’s seventh birthday.
Thanks to Great Lakes Testing, Darboy Corner Store, B&B Race Engines, Speed51.com, and Section 715 Throwing Co., Johnson secured a payday of $2,100 toward the $2,300 investment for the 2021 TUNDRA season – with five races and a point fund check yet to go.
The next stop for the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series is at Marshfield Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 12 for the Bev Aschenbrenner Memorial Presented by Incredible Bank and A&A Lock Service. Qualifying will begin at 5:45 with racing at 7 pm. TUNDRA will be joined by the Midwest Dash Series and Upper Midwest Vintage Racing Series.
Marshfield Motor Speedway is located at 10853 County Rd H just outside of Marshfield, Wis. For more information visit www.marshfieldspeedway.com
-TUNDRA Press Release