Casey Johnson had effectively won everything you could possibly win at Jefferson Speedway (WI), the hometown track for the multiple-time champion of Late Model Series throughout the Upper Midwest.
However, a win in the ARCA Midwest Tour Salute the Troops 100 at the Cambridge, Wisconsin quarter-mile had always eluded Johnson – until Saturday night, when Johnson held off Austin Nason to take the checkered flag.
“This is huge,” Johnson said in victory lane. “I haven’t been able to quite pull this one out. I’ve had a couple seconds, couple thirds, won just about everything else here.”
Johnson pulled away to a healthy lead and dominated the middle stages of the race after fierce early battles with the likes of Paul Shafer, Jr. and Rich Bickle. However, a caution with 14 laps remaining in the 100-lap race when Bickle spun after contact with John Beale erased that gap.
On the ensuing restart, Austin Nason threatened Johnson for the top spot, but ultimately Johnson prevailed for the win.
“Man, Austin gave me a run for my money there,” said Johnson. “We had a great car early and kind of faded a little bit. We saved just enough.
You just never know,” Johnson added about the late restart. “You’ve got the best in the business behind you, so you just never know what’s going to shake out towards the end.”
Nason, who raced his way up from a 10th-place starting spot, was pleased to come away with a runner-up finish, particularly to a veteran like Johnson at his home track.
“Finishing second to this guy is incredible, as many laps as he has around here,” said Nason. “To start from 10th, man, that was deep. We fell back a little there.”
During the late-race battle, Johnson and Nason briefly made contact. However, Nason did not want to take advantage of the situation and elected to back off.
“It was a great run for Casey,” said Nason. “I got into him a little off of two. It actually might have helped him more than it helped me, but I don’t want to run that way. I let him save it and went back racing. I tried everything I could to get there again.”
Shafer. Jr. rounded out the podium after briefly challenging for the top spot in the early laps.
“We’ll take it,” said Shafer, Jr. “Casey’s really good here and Nason’s been good the last couple of years. It was tough. I made it to the lead at one point, but Casey’s just really good. He’s been around here for so long.”
Race fans who missed Saturday’s Salute the Troops 100 at Jefferson Speedway can watch an on-demand replay of the broadcast on Speed51 by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo