Johnson, Wood, and Talaska Crowned Champions at MIS Banquet
By John Wells
Casey Johnson, Jerry Wood, and Cory Talaska were crowned 2013 MIS Track Champions as drivers in three racing divisions were honored on Saturday, November 9th at the Madison International Speedway banquet that took place at Banushi’s Bar and Grill in Stoughton.
It was the first track championship at Madison for Casey Johnson of Stoughton, Wisconsin, who was crowned the champion of the 2014 Super Late Model Triple Crown Challenge. Johnson finished the season with three top five finishes out of four events highlighted by his first-ever super late model feature win at Madison on June 16th. Johnson also notched one fast time and totaled 388 points for the year. His efforts earned him a check for $3000.
Johnson commented, “I want to thank Madison for bringing back the super late models. There are so many people I need to thank for getting me up here today. Bruce Lee, my car owner who if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be up here tonight. Plus, my great crew for all the work they do, and the guys at Pathfinder for setting up the car. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to get back and do this on Friday nights next year and try to win again.”
He was also recognized as Super Late Model Rookie of the Year.
Competing in his final season of racing following a career that has spanned over thirty years, Rich Bickle Jr. of Janesville, Wisconsin, finished second in the Triple Crown point standings. Bickle Jr., who has won two championships at Madison, finished with 365 points including the feature win in his final race on September 8th. His second place finish was good for a $2000 payday.
Making the long haul each week from Fairmount, Minnesota, paid off for Nick Murgic who finished in third place with 350 points powered by three top five finishes. As a result of that third place finish, Murgic took home a check for $1000.
“I would like to thank all of the guys at Madison for letting us race. We came a long ways to make this happen and I have to thank my crew guys for getting the car ready and especially my mom and dad. It was a good year,” said Murgic.
Drivers in the Triple Crown Challenge who raced all four events were eligible for point fund money.
Jerry Wood of Madison, Wisconsin, picked up his first track championship at Madison by winning the Club La Mark Midwest Trucks title. Wood earned two feature wins, two heat wins and seven top five finishes in all seven events for a total of 742 points.
Finishing a close second with 732 points was John Wood of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. He picked up one feature win, one fast time, three heat wins and was in the top five for six of the seven events.
“This is quite an honor to be up here tonight. This year towards the end things got pretty tight. That last race when I finished second and I realized that I wasn’t going to be track champion. But, I finished second to the best, my brother Jerry.”
Wood went on to speak for his brother who was hunting in Montana and unable to attend the banquet. “We couldn’t have done it without Joe and Chad and everyone who made this possible. Without family and everyone this just wouldn’t happen. Jerry is very proud to win his championship at Madison; a place where it seems like he’s been racing forever. He was the one who got me started in racing in the trucks many years ago. Both of us want to thank MIS for giving us a great place to race.”
Natalie Decker of Eagle River, Wisconsin, finished in third place with 622 points that included a thrilling win in the final race of the season on September 8th. She also had one heat win and finished in the top five on three occasions. Decker was also recognized as the Rookie of the Year.
“First off I want to thank my parents for making this all possible for me. I want to thank all of those who helped make my truck go fast including the crew and sponsors. I also want to thank the race track for letting us race there this year.”
All drivers who ran at least 75% of the Midwest Truck point races at MIS were eligible for point fund money.
Cory Talaska of Campbellsport, Wisconsin, had been in the hunt for a track championship the past couple of years but came up just short. This year he was not about to be denied as he was crowned the track champion in the Pellitteri Waste Systems Legends division after earning 676 points. On his way to the championship he won two features, two heat races, and was the fast qualifier at three events. He finished in the top five at all six races.
“It was a great year and I had a lot of fun. Thanks to Madison for giving us such a great place to race. It was super fun racing with everyone in our division and every race was exciting,” said Talaska. “The people I really have to thank are my dad and grandpa for all they have done for me since I began racing when I was four years old.”
The runner-up in the Legends division was second-generation driver Aaron Moyer of Malone, Wisconsin, who finished with 655 points and a division high three feature wins. Moyer was also a top five finisher in all six races.
“First things first, I’ve got to thank Madison for putting a phenomenal deal together for the Legends. I really have to thank my father for all he does for me and for the Legends drivers in Wisconsin,” said Moyer. “I want to congratulate Cory on his win and I’m looking forward to next year and getting a lot of wins.”
The team of Andy Jones and Max McNamara took home third place honors with 611 points. Between the two Illinois drivers they had won the past five track championships at Madison. Jones took the checkered flag in one race this year giving him a total of fourteen in his career at Madison.
“I want to thank everyone at Madison for giving us the opportunity to race and want to thank my parents and Kevin and Donna Griffin for giving me the opportunity to race. I can’t complain about all of the things we’ve accomplished at Madison over the years.”
Thirteen-year old Austin Kunert of Batavia, Illinois, was named Rookie of the Year. “I want to thank my sponsors, the Jones family, and my parents for helping me out all year,” said Kunert, who finished in fifth place overall.
All drivers who ran at least 75% of the Legends races at MIS were eligible for point fund money.
Casey Johson won the drawing for a $500 product certificate to Five Star while Nick Murgic and Gary LaMonte received $125 certificates.
Pathfinder Chassis provided certificates to all Rookie of the Year drivers.
Madison International Speedway would like to thank all of the race teams, sponsors, and fans for their support of the 2013 season.
The 2014 racing season at Madison International Speedway will return to Friday nights beginning on May 23rd and running until August 29th. Weekly racing divisions will include Super Late Models, Midwest Trucks, Sportsman, Bandits, and Legends. The Triple Crown Challenge will return for the Super Late Models along with a three race Late Model Challenge Series.