Jon Reynolds Jr. made Big 8 Series history Friday night at State Park Speedway. He picked up the win and in the process tied Jeremy Miller for most Big 8 Series wins of all time.
“That’s pretty cool,” said Jon Reynolds Jr. in victory lane. “He’s a stellar driver and it’s definitely a cool thing (to tie Miller).”
Reynolds Jr. and last year’s event winner, Casey Johnson, were the class of the field for the 58-lap Big 8 feature at the Wausau, WI racetrack. The two started on the front row and it was Johnson who was able to jump out to the lead right away. Johnson and Reynolds Jr. checked out from the field and Johnson’s lead was never more than a car length over Reynolds Jr.
For 40 laps Reynolds Jr. stalked Johnson. After several attempts on taking a peak to the inside, on lap 41, Reynolds Jr. got to the inside of Johnson and the two raced side by side for the lead. Reynolds made the inside groove work and was able to take the lead just one lap later.
Johnson fought back and got into the rear bumper of Reynolds Jr., almost sending him around on the backstretch, but Reynolds Jr. was able to hang on and keep the top spot.
“He did hit me hard enough that I thought I was gonna spin out, but we didn’t,” said Reynolds. “He was freer than me, freer than me on entry. He was getting off the corner good, but I could just stay tight enough to where I thought if I could get ahead of him he was never gonna be able to get back by me.”
As Reynolds Jr. held the lead, now it was Johnson who was never more than a car length behind. Johnson stalked Reynolds Jr. around the ¼ mile race track, but was never able to make a move.
Two late race cautions gave Johnson a chance on the re-start, but each time Reynolds maintained the lead and was able to separate just enough from Johnson to stay in front.
Reynolds led the final 17 laps to take the checkered flag and win the Big 8 Series feature at State Park Speedway.
“I knew we were keeping the same gap on each other the whole time,” said Johnson, “I knew it was going to be hard, but I knew there was maybe a shot. On those restarts I just needed one shot at his bumper cover is what I thought, it’s what I was going for.”
“I knew if we could get ahead of him we could run the right line to stay ahead of him and we did,” state Reynolds.
John DeAngelis Jr finished third, Dale Nottestad fourth and J Herbst fifth.
Fast qualifier Jesse Bernhagen had a flat tire on lap seven, fixed it, restarted at the back and worked his way through the field to finish sixth.
Big 8 Series point leader Austin Nason had a rough night. Forced to the rear of the field early in the race, he worked his way up to fifth with ten laps to go. He was involved in a caution with nine laps to go and was forced to retire for the evening. Nason finished 16th.
Next up for the Big 8 Series is a trip to Jefferson Speedway in Wisconsin on September 12th and 13th.
By Jana Wimmer – Speed51.com correspondent