(JULY 29, 2018) WAUSAU, WI - In the long tradition of Wisconsin racers who will race any time, anywhere, Casey Johnson has never been afraid of a challenge.
The Cambridge driver has proven to be one of the most talented drivers in the state by being capable of winning anywhere and he added to a growing collection of prestigious wins in his career by claiming the Northcentral Technical College Truck Driving School 100, the main event of the 38th annual Larry Detjens Memorial at State Park Speedway.
Johnson added his name to a list of Detjens winners that includes the likes of Dick Trickle, Tom Reffner, Tim and Johnny Sauter and Scott and Chris Wimmer, to name just a few. He did so by making the final move in a battle with up-and-coming 15-year old Carson Kvapil of Mooresville, N.C., and then holding Kvapil by two car lengths for the win.
"It's definitely an honor," said Johnson in Brickner Family Auto Group Victory Lane after the race. "I obviously was a little too young to watch Larry race, but I take the time to ask the old guys about him because it sounds like he was a heck of a guy and all around heck of a driver."
Johnson led the final 25 laps after getting the better of Kvapil on the last restart in a caution-laden race that included eight yellows. Given a second chance after losing the lead to Kvapil on a restart three laps earlier, Johnson made the most of it.
Kvapil, the son of former Wisconsin racer and NASCAR truck series driver Travis Kvapil and driving a former Ty Majeski car while touring the Midwest this summer, had taken the lead from Johnson on a restart with 28 to go, getting a good jump on the outside and going to the front for the first time in the race. Johnson had to fend off Gleason's Justin Mondeik for second, but the caution flew for the final time on lap 76 when Ryan Hinner spun between turns three and four, with Mike Olson clipping him and having to go to the pits.
Kvapil was strong on the outside all race long, and he made the bold move to take the outside when choosing his lane on the restart. That allowed Johnson the inside of the front row, and he made the most of it by with a good jump at the flag this time and then cleared Kvapil a lap later.
Kvapil was briefly engaged for second again with Mondeik, who was strong all race long and finished third. Kvapil eventually broke free, but by then Johnson had too, and though he lurked the final 15 laps, Kvapil could get no closer than three car lengths in the final laps.
"Carson had a heck of a car out there, and he's going to be a force to be reckoned with here shortly, but man, we finally won one here," said Johnson, who has had his share of podium finishes without a win at State Park since winning the 2013 Big 8 race.
Johnson came out on top of a strong 17-car field in a race where a number of drivers appeared to be the fastest at given times. Luke Fenhaus started from the pole and led with three-time Detjens winner Mark Mackesy behind him in the early stages, but Mondeik moved to the front row on a lap 32 restart and passed Fenhaus on the outside on a lap 32 restart.
Mondeik was then challenged by Stratford's Derek Kraus, the 16-year old currently racing in the NASCAR K&N West Series, with Kraus ready to take the lead on the outside at one point before another caution flew. Mondeik led until lap 63, when he got loose and Johnson got inside of him and made the pass, with Kraus also following through.
"We're pretty excited to be on the podium at the Larry Detjens Memorial," said Mondeik after the race. "At the same time we're a little disappointed, at about 25 to go at the restart we felt that we were better than then '5' (Johnson)...then we had another caution, and the car kind of got a little bit tight on entry...I'm really happy but still a little disappointed, too."
Ryan Farrell of East Troy finished fourth, setting fast time in Fred Mueller Qualifying and coming through the pack on several occasions, first after being involved in a spin and later after going to the pits with a flat tire. Kraus slipped back to fifth at the end, while current track points leader Fenhaus finished sixth.
Auto Select Late Models pres. by C-Tech
Fast Qualifier: Ryan Farrell, East Troy, 13.722 sec.
First Heat: Mike Egan, Slinger; Adam Peschek, Oconomowoc; Jerry Mueller, Richfield; Dean Lapointe, Marshfield
Second Heat: M.G. Gajewski, Wausau; Luke Fenhaus, Wausau; Ryan Hinner, Stevens Point; Justin Mondeik, Gleason; Mike Olson, Dorchester
Third Heat: Derek Doerr, Watertown; Jeremy Lepak, Wausau; Casey Johnson, Cambridge; Carson Kvapil, Mooresville, N.C.; Farrell
Feature: Johnson; Kvapil; Mondeik; Farell; Derek Kraus, Stratford; Fenhaus; Mark Mackesy, Wausau; Lepak; Doerr; Jerry Mueller, Richfield
There was little doubt from the start that Dillon Mackesy was hooked up in the Budweiser Fabiano Brothers Limited Late Models, and the third-generation driver from Athens rolled to wins in the heat race and the 25-lap feature.
Mackesy took the lead on lap three, getting past by visiting driver Jerry Mueller of Richfield, who raced in the Big 8 race the night before and also raced a super late model Saturday night. Mackesy took off from the rest of the pack to win easily, while Brock Heinrich emerged from a nearly race-long battle with Rayce Haase to finish second.
In a highly competitive Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks feature, it was five-time division champion Travis Volm of Mosinee rising to the top again to win the 25-lap race. Volm completed the seventh lead change of the race among five different leaders, getting inside Brandon Knoblock on lap 20 and going on to his second win of the season in the class. Knoblock finished second in his first trip to the track this year, coming out ahead of a mid-race 12-lap battle for the lead with Anthony Lashua before Volm got by both late.
Zach Onson returned to racing for the first time since 2016 and won the 25-lap Snap-on Mini Mods feature. A former frontrunner in the mini stocks who finished fourth in that division two years ago, the Wausau racer drove a George Seliger car to the win, going outside Dale Louze for first on lap seven and cruised the rest of the way. Tim Hintz of Nekoosa finished second in the main for the second straight night in his first two appearances at the track this year.
One of the best side-by-side battles at the track all season had a sour ending in the Motors Service & Supply Mini Stocks feature.
Wausau's Brett Breitenfeldt and Mosinee's Amanda Rowe put on a show of two cars numbered 14, battling for first over the final 15 laps and racing wheel-to-wheel for the last six laps of the 25-lap race. At the finish line it was Breitenfeldt by a nose, officially 34 thousandths of a second ahead of Rowe for the win. After the race, though, Breitenfeldt was disqualified for an unapproved suspension part, giving Rowe her fourth feature win of the season.
Karter Stark moved through traffic quickly and won the Mighty Bandoleros feature. Coming from Marshall in the Madison area, Stark got to the front quickly from the sixth starting spot, first moving up on the outside line and then passing Michael Guderski in the inside out of turn four on lap three for the lead. He held off two-time feature winner Jevin Guralski the rest of the way in the 15-lap race.
Racing at State Park Speedway moves back to Thursday nights with the next race on Aug. 9, when the Midwest Trucks and Midwest Dash 4-cylinder series both are on the program, as well as the Central Wisconsin Steel Frame Challenge Series and support divisions. Fred Mueller Qualifying begins at 6 p.m. with racing at 7 p.m.
Budweiser Fabiano Brothers Limited Late Models
Fast Qualifier: Brock Heinrich, Wausau, 14.596 sec.
Heat: Dillon Mackesy, Athens; Jerry Mueller, Richfield; Rayce Haase, Wausau; Heinrich; Adam Rodemeier, Wausau
Feature: D. Mackesy; Heinrich; Haase; Volm; Mitch Stankowski, Wausau; Rodemeier; Mueller
Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Travis Volm, Mosinee, 15.517 sec.
First Heat: Jeff Spatz, Wausau; Kolton Guralski, Wausau; Carson Sillars, Wausau; Anthony Lashua, Wausau; Rick Guillaume, Wausau
Second Heat: Nick Grish, Wausau; Chad Dietsche, Hatley; Brian Schramm, Wausau; Volm; Dustin Ochodnicky, Ogema; Brandon Knoblock, Wausau
Feature: Volm; Knoblock; Schramm; Dietsche; Sillars; Spatz; K. Guralski; Grish; Lashua; Ochodnicky
Snap-on Mini Mods
Fast Qualifier: George Seliger, Wausau, 15.878 sec.
First Heat: Zach Onson, Wausau; Dale Louze, Mosinee; John Lietz, Mosinee; Jim Lietz, Mosinee; Dave Meyer, West Allis
Second Heat: Gary Garand, Weston; Tim Hintz, Nekoosa; Jerry Brickner, Wausau; Seliger; Greg Blount, Marathon
Feature: Onson; Hintz; Brickner; Seliger; Blount; Louze; Mike Heidmann, Edgar; John Lietz; Garand; Jim Lietz; Meyer
Motors Service & Supply Mini Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Brett Breitenfeldt, Wausau, 16.601 sec.
First Heat: Ashley Schoone, Tomahawk; Zach Gazda, Vulcan, Mich.; Randy Zieglmeier, Wausau; Tom Lecher, Wausau; Kendra Baumann, Wausau
Second Heat: Amanda Rowe, Wausau; Nathan Steif, Wausau; Kyle Check, Shantytown; Kevin Tessmer, Wausau; Breitenfeldt
Feature: Rowe; Schoone; Tessmer; Lecher; Ferge; Steif; Check; Gazda; Zieglmeier; Baumann; Dawson Beck, Tomahawk
Fast Qualifier: Alex Hartwig, Portage, 16.477 sec.
First Heat: Emma Hunstiger, Jefferson; Michael Guderski, Markeston; Robbie Rucks, Deerfield; Keagen Benz, Wausau; Paxton Benz, Wausau
Second Heat: Karter Stark, Marshall; Jevin Guralski, Wausau; Hartwig; Anna Malouf, Rhinelander; Laney Osborne, Janesville
Feature: Stark; Guralski; Hartwig; J. Guderski; Osborne; Malouf; Rucks; Hunstiger; K. Benz; P. Benz
-State Park Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: State Park Speedway (Facebook)