WAUSAU, Wis. (July 22) – The great ones find a way, and given one more chance in the Big 8 Series annual trip to State Park Speedway, Casey Johnson capitalized.
Running second to Grant Brown much of the way, Johnson closed in late and took the lead with five laps left on his way to winning the Big 8 late models’ 58-lap feature event to highlight the first night of the 42nd annual Larry Detjens Memorial.
Johnson got back by the car that had passed him for the lead earlier and won for the second time in the Big 8’s 11 trips to State Park and the first time since 2013. It also was the 12th Big 8 win all-time for the Cambridge short track ace, a two-time Big 8 series champion who in recent years has piled up a racing resume to match any driver in the Midwest.
“When the 14 (Brown) passed me, I thought he had the best car hands down,” said Johnson in a post-race interview trackside with Big 8 announcer Eric Huenefeld, “but I told my spotter at the end we’re going to see what this thing’s got, keep the pressure on, and we wound up up front.”
The race’s final restart with 15 laps to go proved to be the opportunity Johnson needed to catch Brown, who led 30 of the 58 laps and was searching for his first Big 8 win.
Brown had built a comfortable lead after two previous restarts in the race’s middle stages, but it quickly became apparent something was different after the resumption on lap 44. This time Brown did not get away, and with ten laps to go Johnson was lurking just a few car lengths back.
Johnson closed to the bumper of Brown by lap 50, and after another run made contact with Brown’s bumper going into turn 3 on lap 52, causing both cars to get loose. Brown held on but Johnson got another run on lap 53 and this time got to the inside of the leader.
The cars were side-by-side for a lap but Johnson cleared for the lead on the backstretch on lap 54. He would pull away in the final laps to win by six car lengths over Brown, who had to fight off a challenge from a fast-closing Owen Giles of New Market, Minn., on the final lap.
The win gives Johnson the chance to accomplish a big double in the Detjens Memorial, as he also will compete in the ARCA Midwest Tour race now rescheduled for Sunday. Johnson enters the ARCA Midwest Tour points leader.
“I used to do this stuff all the time, it’s good to get back to my roots,” said Johnson, who regular runs super late models but still makes occasional starts with the Big 8 Series and at Jefferson Speedway. “I love running these limited lates, you just get up on the wheel, and if it doesn’t like it you drive it harder.”
Brown appeared to have the field covered after he took the lead from Johnson on lap 23 and after some paint trading between the two started to pull away. The Prior Lake, Minn., driver was fastest in practice sessions, the second-fastest qualifier for the night and a heat race winner, but instead had to be happy finishing second in the Big 8 race at State Park for the second straight year.
“It’s definitely not bad,” said Brown of his finish. “I’ve looked up to that guy, to be able to trade bumpers and doors with him, and to be able to learn from him a little bit hopefully for the next time is really awesome.”
Giles finished third in his first appearance at State Park, staying out of trouble and slowly picking up spots to be there in the end in a race that included six caution flags. Jerry Mueller of Richfield finished fourth, leading the race’s first 12 laps from the pole and staying in the top five all race. Big 8 points leader Dale Nottestad of Cambridge came in fifth. Defending SPS Big 8 race champion Jon Reynolds Jr. followed Johnson and Brown to the front early and was running third when he slowed suddenly on the front stretch on lap 43 and went to the pits done for the night.
Big 8 Late Models
Fast Qualifier: Michael Ostdiek, Lakeville, Minn., 14.420 sec.
First Heat: 1. William Rece, Stoughton; 2. Owen Giles, New Market, Minn.; 3. Ostdiek; 4. Casey Johnson, Cambridge; 5. Willie Nelson, Richmond, Ill.; 6. McKayla Adams, Sun Prairie
Second Heat: 1. Adam Oxborough, Montgomery, Minn.; 2. Jon Reynolds Jr., Loves Park, Ill.; 3. Dale Nottestad, Cambridge; 4. Randy Sargent, South Beloit, Ill.; 5. Tyler Hromodka, Colgate; 6. Brian Allen, Marion, Iowa
Third Heat: 1. Grant Brown, Prior Lake, Minn.; 2. Stephen Scheel, Lake Mills; 3. Kody King, Clear Lake, Iowa; 4. Jerry Mueller, Richfield; 5. Hanna Raley, Fall River
Feature: 1. Johnson; 2. Brown; 3. Giles; 4. Mueller; 5. Nottestad; 6. Rece; 7. Sargent; 8. Hromodka; 9. Nelson; 10. Adams; 11. Reynolds; 12. Scheel; 13. Ostdiek; 14. Oxborough; 15. King; 16. Raley; 17. Allen
Breitenfeldt picks up third win, Brockhouse, Henze also Detjens winners on night one
WAUSAU, Wis. (July 22) – The 2020 Larry Detjens Memorial started a magical stretch for Eric Breitenfeldt two years ago, and the first night of the 2022 Detjens Memorial at State Park Speedway showed that run isn’t over yet.
Breitenfeldt picked up his third feature win of the season in the Rockstar Energy Drink Mini Stocks, taking the 20-lap main to cap the first night of the 42nd annual Detjens Memorial. The Wausau driver won on Detjens weekend for the second time in three years and claimed the feature for the third time in the last four race nights at State Park this year.
Breitenfeldt received the break he needed midway through the race, when a spin by Brad Lecher on lap 10 broke up the early stalemate between front row starters Joey Blaschka and Amanda Rowe. The two raced side-by-side for the first nine laps until Rowe took a slight lead just before the caution, but Blaschka chose to start behind Rowe on the restart, allowing Breitenfeldt to move up to the front row for a battle of No. 14s.
Breitenfeldt needed less than a lap to clear Rowe for the lead, and he would quickly check out on the field. He went on to win by a straightaway over Garret Strachota, with Rowe finishing third, Ashley Schoone fourth and Blaschka taking fifth.
The night kept Breitenfeldt and Strachota little more than a hair apart in the point standings, with Strachota one point ahead on the season as he goes for his third SPS mini stocks title while Breitenfeldt looks to repeat as champion in the class.
Ayrton Brockhouse’s quest for a first-ever feature win at State Park Speedway was completed Friday night, but not in the class where most of his racing at the track has taken place.
A regular in the Bandolero class the past three years and points leader in the class entering the night, the Shakopee, Minn., 12-year old concentrated instead on his Legends car for the evening and came away with his first feature win at State Park, winning the 20-lap feature.
Brockhouse was part of a swarm of cars that came from the back to the front quickly in the race’s early laps. He eventually took the lead on the outside of his father Tim Brockhouse on lap 9 and held off fellow Minnesota driver Colin Stocker in the later laps in the second appearance of the cars at State Park this season.
The Legends feature got off on the wrong foot with an uneven start at the front where third row inside starter Russ Weiler of Marshfield took the lead by the second turn. The mess came to a culmination at the end of the first lap as Michele Kreyer spun on the front stretch, Andrew Borntreger was collected and Tyler Ledbetter took the hardest hit, spinning nose into the cars and the outside wall and briefly getting airborne. All three drivers walked away but were done for the night.
Defending SPS Bandoleros champion Cohen Henze returned to Brickner Family Auto Group Victory Lane for the first time this year, winning an eventful 15-lap feature.
Henze took the lead from Paxton Benz of Wausau on lap 13 and went on to win with Lincoln Cain of Slinger coming in second and Jayden Johnson of Ixonia finishing third. Henze completed a charge from the tenth starting spot and from fourth with three laps remaining.
Henze was running in that position on the initial attempt at lap 13 under green when leader Penn Sauter spun between turns 3 and 4 after contact from Alex Hartwig. Both cars were sent to the back, giving Benz the lead and Henze second place. Henze chose to start in the second row behind Benz for the restart, but he still found an opening to make his move on the backstretch soon on the first lap back to green, taking the lead inside Benz and then surviving one more caution flag a lap later to win a last two-lap shootout.
The second day of the Detjens Memorial has been postponed due to forecasted thunderstorms Saturday and has been rescheduled for Sunday, July 24. A full schedule highlighted by the ARCA Midwest Tour Super Late Models and a 125-lap feature also includes mini stocks, Bandoleros, Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks and Snap-on Mini Mods. Qualifying begins at 1:15 p.m. with racing starting at 2:30 p.m.
Rockstar Energy Drink Mini Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Carson Phillips, Edgerton, 16.702 sec.
First Heat: 1. Kendra Baumann, Wausau; 2. Clayton Phillips, Marathon; 3. Justin Boykins, Wisconsin Rapids; 4. Jeremy Whitman, Milwaukee; 5. Randy Zieglmeier, Wausau; 6. Levi Wiesman, Merrill
Second Heat: 1. Zack Rogers, Wausau; 2. Luke Mikula, Wausau; 3. Amanda Rowe, Mosinee; 4. Tyler Muller, Sun Prairie; 5. Brad Lecher, Wausau; 6. Joey Blaschka, Wausau
Third Heat: 1. Ashley Schoone, Gleason; 2. Garret Strachota, Wausau; 3. Eric Breitenfeldt, Wausau; 4. Zach Budleski, Wausau; 5. Mark Schoone, Gleason; 6. Carson Phillips; 7. Tom Lecher, Wausau
Semi-Feature: 1. Rogers; 2. Boykins; 3. Baumann; 4. Zieglmeier; 5. Whitman; 6. Clayton Phillips; 7. Wiesman
Feature: 1. Breitenfeldt; 2. Strachota; 3. Rowe; 4. A. Schoone; 5. Blaschka; 6. Budleski; 7. Carson Phillips; 8. Mikula; 9. Muller; 10. Rogers; 11. T. Lecher; 12. B. Lecher; 13. Boykins; 14. M. Schoone
Fast Qualifier: Alex Hartwig, Portage, 16.022 sec.
First Heat: 1. Mason Oleson, Mosinee; 2. Cole Kurth, Wisconsin Rapids; 3. Casie Brabant, Marshall; 4. Ace Oldenhoff, Lake Mills; 5. Mason Obermeyer, Union Grove; 6. M. Obermeyer, Union Grove, 7. Chris Flynn, Farmington, Minn.
Second Heat: 1. Axel Oldenhoff, Lake Mills; 2. Lincoln Johnson, Ixonia; 3. Bentley Thompson, West Salem; 4. Riley Smith, Cambridge; 5. Laci Stargardt, Neillsville; 6. Collin Murphy, Janesville; 7. Ayden Brockhouse, Shakopee, Minn.; 8. Harley Johnson, Ixonia
Third Heat: 1. Hartwig; 2. Cohen Henze, Juda; 3. Jayden Johnson, Ixonia; 4. Penn Sauter, DeForest; 5. Paxton Benz, Wausau; 6. Lincoln Cain, Slinger; 7. Danny Mann, Elko, Minn.; 8. Oliver Weinkauf, Merrill
Semi-Feature: 1. L. Johnson; 2. Ayden Brockhouse; 3. Mason Obermeyer; 4. Murphy; 5. Oleson; 6. Kurth; 7. Brabant; 8. Ace Oldenhoff; 9. Markus Obermeyer; 10. Flynn; 11. H. Johnson
Feature: 1. Henze; 2. Cain; 3. J. Johnson; 4. Mann; 5. Hartwig; 6. Axel Oldenhoff; 7. Sauter; 8. Thompson; 9. Stargardt; 10. L. Johnson; 11. Benz; 12. Smith; 13. Ayden Brockhouse; 14. Weinkauf
Fast Qualifier: Ayrton Brockhouse, Shakopee, Minn., 15.394 sec.
First Heat: 1. Andrew Borntreger, Elroy; 2. Russ Weiler, Marshfield; 3. Rose Borntreger, Elroy; 4. Michele Kreyer, Wisconsin Dells; 5. Justin Kimball, Prior Lake, Minn.
Second Heat: 1. Tyler Ledbetter, Stillwater, Minn.; 2. Colin Stocker, Farmington, Minn.; 3. Ayrton Brockhouse; 4. Tim Brockhouse, Shakopee, Minn.; 5. Levon Van Der Geest, Merrill; 6. Elliot Weiler, Marshfield
Feature: 1. Ayrton Brockhouse; 2. Stocker; 3. Van Der Geest; 4. E. Weiler; 5. T. Brockhouse; 6. R. Borntreger; 7. R. Weiler; 8. Gage Schmidt, Elk River, Minn.; 9. Kimball; 10. Kreyer; 11. A. Borntreger; 12. Ledbetter