LOVES PARK, Ill. — Casey Johnson captured the yellow caution flag-plagued ARCA Midwest Tour Kar Korner All-Star 100 late model stock car race at Rockford Speedway Saturday night.
Johnson, the 28-year old speedster from Edgerton, Wis., wheeled his Valley Gasket/Lake Park Pub/VanZeeland Collison & Paint/Hougan Farms-sponsored Ford to the win, his second Midwest Tour victory of the season and his third career win.
Second in series standings before the night’s racing, Johnson, the evening’s second fastest qualifier among 22 entries, held a 0.257-second advantage at the checkered flag over young Carson Kvapil.
Brad Kossow finished third with Max Kahler taking fourth – the only other drivers on the lead lap. John DeAngelis Jr. completed 99 laps and was credited with fifth with Justin Mondeik, who ran 98 laps, getting sixth.
Eight caution flags slowed the action with the cars being stopped on the track several times for track crews to do their cleanup work.
Rich Bickle Jr. led from lap six with last year’s event winner and the day’s fastest qualifier Austin Nason moving into the top spot on lap 26. Nason was leading the way when he slowed, the victim of driveline problems, and stopped on the main straightaway, bringing out the race’s fourth yellow flag with 44 laps in.
Nason, who started the event as the tour’s points leader, came back in the race and finished eighth – 10 laps down.
With the race still not to the halfway point, Bickle was again the leader with only 11 cars still on the track. The caution lights came on for the sixth time with 45 laps in the books with Johnson ducking in the pits to replace a flat tire. Johnson returned to the action with Bickle and Kvapil running one-two when green flag racing resumed.
Johnson quickly began moving forward and raced inside of Bickle between turns three and four for lead on lap 65. Fighting for a top-three spot, Bickle got knocked out of the race after completing 89 laps. After racing resumed again after the final yellow flag, Kvapil put pressure on Johnson after the restart with Johnson again building a comfortable margin when the race ended.
“The left-rear tire was flat on the wheel,” said Johnson about his mid-race pit stop. “I thought we broke something in the rear end and we were done. There weren’t a whole lot of cars still running and it didn’t put us in too bad a position (coming back on the track).
“The car picked up right where we left off. I think I had the best car before that and I was just biding my time. Once it was go time, we went. There’s one preferred groove here and if anybody knows that groove it’s Rich Bickle. He was doing what he had to do to keep the lead. I used a couple of moves that he had shown me (before).”
By virtue of his win, Johnson joins an elite group of drivers, including Wisconsin legend Dick Trickle, who have won Rockford’s “Crown Jewels” races – the Spring Classic, the National Short Track Championship and the All-Star 100.
Yellow flags also slowed the Star Spangled 76 for NASCAR late models which was won by young Max Kahler. The 16-year-old Kahler, a three-year veteran of late model racing, scored his second feature win of the year at the high-banked, quarter-mile, paved oval.
Veteran Tom Gille finished second, followed by Mike Beyer, two-time track champion and current points leader Michael Bilderback and Jacob Vanoskey.
Casey Johnson, Carson Kvapil, Brad Kossow, Max Kahler, John DeAngelis Jr., Justin Mondeik, Andrew Brocker, Austin Nason, Rich Bickle Jr., John Beale, Scott Koerner, James Swan, Paul Shafer Jr., Jon Reynolds Jr., Ryan Farrell, Jim Olson, Gabe Sommers, Jake Gille, Curt Tillman, Wayne Freimund, Ricky Baker, Steve Rubeck