By Dan Margetta
Slinger, Wis., April 25—Casey Johnson fended off a serious challenge by Slinger Late Model Track Champion Jacob Nottestad in the closing laps to win the season-opening 88-lap Big 8 Late Model Series feature Sunday afternoon at the Slinger Super Speedway.
Nottestad pressured Johnson mightily following a late caution set up following a hard crash into the turn one wall by fourth place Jeff Holtz as he and third running Dale Nottestad battled amidst heavy lapped traffic. Johnson was able to turn back Jacob Nottestad’s challenges and he drove to the victory, capturing the elusive trophy he had promised to his young daughter since last November.
“I knew Jake (Nottestad) was going to be really strong and he ran me super clean,” Johnson stated from victory lane, “I always liked running on the high side here as you can keep your momentum up and it didn’t really seem too bad to me.”
“I’ll be back here to try to win the Slinger Nationals,” Johnson continued,” I hear the winner of that gets an SRX ride.”
The Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) Series is a new six race summer series established by NASCAR Hall of Famers Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham featuring well known national drivers and the series’ July 10th Slinger Speedway race offers an invitation to the winner of the prestigious WABAM Slinger Nationals on July 6th.
“I’m glad we got that last caution,” Jacob Nottestad said afterwards, “it gave me a shot at least but we just couldn’t capitalize.”
“This is probably the best car I have had here at Slinger despite finishing second,” Nottestad continued, “and the competition here is so good but we’re excited about the quick time and new track record.”
Rockford Speedway Big 8 Late Model Series winner Dale Nottestad finished third and afterwards described what he saw in the late race incident that set up the final run to the checkered flag.
“It was pretty scary in lapped traffic and I didn’t know where they were going to go,” Nottestad said, “ and I hate that (Jeff) Holtz got involved in that. We were good but were just a tick off those two (Johnson and J. Nottestad) but I’ll take it.”
John Reynolds Jr. finished in fourth place ahead of Ryan Gutknecht in fifth. Tom Berens drove to a sixth place finish ahead of Jerry Mueller and Max Kahler in seventh and eighth place respectively. Tyler Hromadka and Randy Sargent rounded out the top ten finishers.
Big 8 Late Model Series heat races were won by Dale Nottestad, Jeff Holtz, and Nick Egan while Jacob Nottestad set fast time by setting a new track record at 11.904 seconds.
Dale Lecus Jr. won the 35-lap sportsman feature over Paul Wagner and Bobby Gutknecht. Andrew Meyerhofer finished fourth and Dennis Prunty drove a car owned by Chris Ratajczyk to a fifth place finish. Joey Pontbriand and Bobby Gutknecht were the winners of the sportsman heat races while Paul Wagner topped qualifying with a lap at 12.679 seconds.
Tyler Schley was the winner of the 30-lap modified main event as he was chased to the checkered flag by Bill Prietzel. Bill Tandetzke crossed the finish line in third place followed by Carl Benn and Denny Schott in fourth and fifth respectively. Denny Schott won the modified heat race and Bill Prietzel was the fastest qualifier after turning a lap in 12.427 seconds.
Todd Buckley topped the 25-lap Super Beez feature besting Zach Greer for the win. Dale Kiley-Schaefer was third ahead of Brandon Tackes and Jakob Hassler in fourth and fifth. Dale Kiley-Schaefer and Zach Greer each won a Super Beez heat race and Todd Buckley was the fastest qualifier with a lap at 13.627.
The 25-lap Slinger Bees feature was won by Tom Elsinger Jr. over Brady Held and Misty Benn. Brandon Mennicke finished fourth while Rickey Gebhard was fifth. The Slinger Bees heat races were won by Tom Elsinger Jr. and Misty Benn while Paul Reagles topped qualifying with a lap of 15.330 seconds.
Bill Shavlik won the Figure 8 main event to close out the afternoon over Rick Bruskiewicz and Shane Becker.