Johnson wins Jefferson Speedway Late Model opener
JEFFERSON —?Three-time Jefferson Speedway Late Model track champion Casey Johnson of Edgerton added to his long list of feature victories, winning the 2017 season opener at Wisconsin’s Action Track.
Starting from the outside of row two, Johnson quickly surged to the front of the field and drove away to capture the Serenity Concepts 50-lap feature on a cool evening in south central Wisconsin.
Steve Dobbratz and Shaun Scheel paced the field to green to kick off the new season of racing in the premier division at Jefferson Speedway. Scheel held the advantage at the completion of lap one with Dobbratz still flanking him on the inside. Scheel cleared for sole possession of the lead on lap three as Johnson quickly filled the high side lane above Dobbratz. A lap later, Johnson moved past Dobbratz and drew even with Scheel at the front of the field. Johnson took over the point on lap five as Scheel dropped back to second with Dobbratz still running third.
Kody Hubred began to challenge Dobbratz on lap six. But contact between the duo on lap 10 sent Dobbratz spinning into turn one to force the first of two cautions in the 50 lap feature event.
As racing resumed, Johnson began to stretch his advantage over the field with Scheel still in second. John Ovadal and defending champ Dale Nottestad moved up to third and fourth respectively on lap 11. The pair of pilots began to wage an intense battle for third while Johnson continued to show the way.
The leaders raced through one more yellow flag on lap 32, but Johnson remained in control as he cruised to the checkers for the win. Scheel finished second with Ovadal, Nottestad and Jason Erickson rounding out the top five.
Janesville’s Tony Ciano grabbed the win in the 30-lap Sportsman main event.
Ciano and Jay Kalbus led the field to green as they battled for control. The pair of drivers waged a seesaw battle over the course of the opening laps with Robert Hansberry Jr. watching closely from third. Finally, on lap 13, Ciano gained control of the top spot with Hansberry moving up to challenge Kalbus for second. Two laps later, Hansberry was up to second as he tried to begin closing the gap on Ciano at the front.
But Ciano was too strong as he stayed in control on his way to the checkers for the win. Hansberry was second followed by Kalbus, Michael Giloman and Jason Thoma.
Mark English of Edgerton charged to the front of the 20-lap International feature to score the victory.
Joe Cross and Josh Rusch made up the front row at the start with Rusch holding the advantage in the opening laps. With Rusch leading, Adam Schook moved up to battle Cross for second with English already up to fourth. On lap five, Schook moved into second with English in his tracks for third. English charged past Schook on lap six and set his sights on Rusch at the front. One lap later, English drove under Rusch as they raced into turn one. English was clear for the top spot before the completion of lap seven as he began to pull away. Jamie Kohn found his way to second with Neil Higgins coming along for third on lap 13.
Higgins made a late race pass to net the second position, but English was already well on his way to picking up the win. Higgins finished second followed by Kohn, Rusch and Schook.
In Hobby Stock action, it was A.J. Lloyd of Loves Park, Ill., scoring the 25-lap feature win.
Jim Wolf took the early lead on lap one with Lucas Buckingham up to second. Buckingham drove under Wolf on lap two as they raced into turn three. On the following circuit, Wolf slowed with problems handing the top spot to Buckingham with Phil Wuesthoff now up to second and Lloyd in third. Lloyd began to look to the high side of Wuesthoff for second on lap seven.
But Wuesthoff held his ground and began to challenge Buckingham for the lead on lap 10. Wuesthoff drew even with Buckingham, clearing on lap 12 to take over the lead. Lloyd followed into second and began to size up the new leader. Lloyd decided to try to high side once again, this time pulling alongside Wuesthoff with six laps remaining.
After a brief battle, Lloyd slid into the lead on lap 21 and drove off capture the win. Wuesthoff was second with Chester Williams, Jim Tate Jr. and Buckingham completing the top five.
Fort Atkinson’s Chris Gottschalk completed the clean sweep on the evening in the Road Warrior division by claiming top honors in qualifying and winning the 15-lap feature as well as his heat race.
After a caution on the opening lap, Richie Nelson and A.J. Accardi brought the field to green with Gottschalk already up to third. Gottschalk flew into the lead on lap two with Merek Pankow following into second a lap later. Another caution on lap four slowed the pace and set up a restart with Gottschalk on the inside of Pankow.
But as racing resumed, Gottschalk fired back into the lead as he raced unchallenged the rest of the way to get the win. Pankow settled for second followed by Bill Reynolds, Nelson and Accardi.
Watertown’s D.J. Hill picked up the win in the 15-lap Bandit feature event.
C.J. Hemiller and Hill got the racing started from the front row with Hemiller taking the initial lead. Hill stayed close as the cars at the front of the field began to bump and bang. The contact resulted in Hemiller spinning as they entered turn three on lap seven. Following the caution, Hill and Chad Olds led the field back to green as they battled door to door for the top spot. Hill held the advantage while Olds tried to hold off Jeremy Bredeson for second.
As they raced across the stripe to finish the event, it was Hill still clinging to the lead with Bredeson nipping Olds at the line for second. Jared Pinnow was fourth with Kade Watters in fifth.
This Saturday, May 13, is a full program of racing with Late Models, Sportsman, Internationals, Hobby Stocks, Road Warriors and Bandoleros. It is also round one of the Sportsman Challenge with twin 25 lap feature events. Time trials begin at 5 p.m. with racing at 7 p.m.
Jefferson Speedway is located halfway between Jefferson and Cambridge on Hwy 18.
Please visit jeffersonspeedway.com for more information.