A wreck-filled Kar Korner All-Star 100 at Rockford Speedway on Saturday night left just eight of 25 cars running on the lead lap at the end and another feel-good story standing in victory lane as Austin Nason picked up his second career ARCA Midwest Tour victory.
Nason held off Casey Johnson on several late-race restarts and took the checkered flag by 0.756 seconds over Johnson’s No. 5J machine. It was the second-straight third-place finish for Johnson.
But it wasn’t easy for Nason, as he cut a tire on his No. 14 car at Lap 29 and had to pit for repairs under the ensuing yellow. Returning to the track at the tail end of the field, the Roscoe, Illinois native aggressively worked his way back to the front and took the point at Lap 41. Despite the several yellow flags, Nason powered away on restart after restart and led the final 60 laps of the event.
“We got to the lead and the restart came and I thought somebody got into me. And I was like man, I think it’s a tire and luckily the caution came out. I got her stopped over in (turn) two and luckily the caution gave us enough time to get the tire changed,” Nason said in victory lane.
“It feels awesome. I think we dominated this thing. We drove back through the field and I don’t think I’ve ever driven through the field that fast to get back to the lead and just walked away with it. I really didn’t want to see those cautions there because we had checked out quite a bit but we were fast.”
Jonathan Eilen, Dalton Zehr and Michael Bilderback completed the top-five.
A hot and muggy night in Northern Illinois on the quarter-mile, high-banked oval led to a lot of aggressive racing throughout the 100-lap event and resulted in 11 caution flags.
Despite the numerous cautions, Nason remained strong on restart after restart.
“I used up Casey (Johnson) a little bit but that’s Rockford. He would have done the same thing. I knew I used him (Johnson) up so I had one coming back. We got into it at Madison a couple weeks ago but we talked about that one so I didn’t really think that was going to be a big ordeal. He really raced me clean. If it was anyone else I probably would have got ran over on those restarts. The thing was awesome. I literally can’t thank my guys enough. This one is for them.”
Nason was poised to take the victory at his home track in the late going last season, but Ty Majeski used the bump-and-run to power by Nason and go on to the victory.
“Oh yeah, that was running through my mind as soon as I saw the caution at Lap 83 and then we had another one at Lap 89 and I was like why can’t we just make it one more lap,” Nason said of 2017’s Rockford event. “It was a lot easier for me to get away on those single file restarts.”
Nason entered the fourth race of the 10-race season trailing leader Paul Shafer Jr. by just one point in the championship standings. On the ensuing restart after Nason’s tire issue, Shafer was in to the wall in Turn No. 4 and the resulting damage put his car on the wrecker and resulted in an 18th-place finish.
Zehr set quick time in qualifying with a new track record of 12.913 seconds. Zehr rolled a six for the invert and started from the 13th position in the 100-lap feature.
James Swan won the qualifier event while Michael Bilderback and Jonathan Eilen took the wins in the odd and even heats.
In the even heat, Ricky Baker got up and into the wall down in turns one and two to the point where all four tires were off the ground. Baker’s No. 52 machine left marks on the billboard and was towed off on the wrecker, but fortunately Baker walked away with no injuries.
The ARCA Midwest Tour will be back in action on Saturday, July 14 at Grundy County Speedway.
- Austin Nason
- Casey Johnson
- Jonathan Eilen
- Dalton Zehr
- Michael Bilderback
- John DeAngelis Jr.
- Billy Mohn
- Dillon Hammond
- Jake Gille
- Justin Mondeik
- Mike Beyer
- Jeff Holmgren Jr.
- Steve Apel
- Jim Olson
- Adam Peschek
- Andrew Morrissey
- Jeff Holtz
- Paul Shafer Jr.
- John Beale
- Mikie Breiner
- Mike Ostdiek
- James Swan
- Rich Bickle Jr.
- Jon Reynolds Jr.
- Scott Koerner