Photo Courtesy Jess Reidner / Website
The final 16 laps of the 10th Annual Joe Shear Classic at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin will be talked about for a long time. At the checkers, it was Austin Nason earning his first victory in the season opening event for the ARCA Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment.
The first 184 laps of the 200-lap event saw former Southern Super Series Champion Bubba Pollard lead a majority of the race and it appeared he was going to be on his way to a $10,000 payday.
It was on the 184th lap that events started to occur that many fans had stunned looks on their faces.
As Pollard was leading, Jonathan Eilen and Johnny Sauter, who started last in the 28-car field, was battling for the second-place finish. The two made contact coming out of turn four causing Eilen to spin. By rule, both were sent to the rear of the field for their involvement in the incident.
During the caution, Pollard was leading the field until he made the sharp left-hand turn into the pits on lap 187, giving up the lead to Casey Johnson with Nason right behind in second place.
Pollard would put his window net down as he pulled into his pit stall and the crew raised the hood and learned that a broken rocker arm took him out of the race.
On the restart, Johnson would get about a car length lead over Nason with Dan Fredrickson in third.
Johnson was looking for another $10,000 check after winning last season’s Dixieland 250 at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wisconsin.
He was two laps away from the checkered flag when the caution flew for a tangle off of turn two that involved Rich Bickle Jr. and Steve Apel.
During the caution, Johnson was leading the field when he slowly stopped coming off of turn two, again, leaving the fans in shock. Johnson would get pulled into the pits to where it was discovered he had a broken fuel pump.
Nason would take over the lead for a two-lap shootout with two-time series champion and defending MIS Triple Crown Series champion Dan Fredrickson in his rear-view mirror.
The green flag would fly and Nason would get a lead over Fredrickson and drive his way to his first ever ARCAMT victory and a $10,000 payday.
“I didn’t know if he (Johnson) was straightening his wheel or what he was doing, it was just weird,” Nason said in victory lane. “I would have loved to race him, me and him have had a lot of good races over my whole career. He has always raced me clean and I raced him clean. We were racing side-by-side for six to seven laps and we never touched each to other. I love racing with him.”
Nason said that this is easily the biggest win in his career. Especially when he gets to take home a $10,000 check.
“It boosts my racing program,” Nason exclaimed. “To tell you the truth, I wasn’t supposed to be racing this year. I had the little one on the way and taking over our company. I can’t thank Brian (Johnson Jr.) enough as he worked on this car all week and has been very helpful to me for the last six years. Over the last year we have shown a lot of speed and I think today it finally paid off.”
Fredrickson didn’t expect he would end his day would end with a podium finish.
“We lucked into second with an eighth place, well sixth place car,” Fredrickson said after the race. “I got to figure it out, we were not getting off of the corners.”
When asked if he had something for Nason in the final two laps, Fredrickson knew he wasn’t going be a challenge for the win.
“I knew he was going to get me and I knew if I pressured him, he may screw up and slow us down and (Nick) Murgic was better than I was, and he would eat me alive,” Fredrickson explained. “I wanted to give him (Nason) plenty of room to get out of there and get the best jump on Murgic so I wouldn’t get run over by him. We were just fighting to get what we got.”
Nick Murgic finished third after starting deep in the field. He was grinning from ear-to-ear at the end of the race.
“I’m excited, I started 20th or something. We worked pretty hard to get this one,” Murgic said. “We were a little too tight on the short run. We tightened it up on our pit stop and I should have known better knowing we would some cautions near the end. It wasn’t a bad effort.”
Paul Shafer Jr. finished fourth with Dalton Zehr rounding out the top five.
The event saw 10 lead changes among seven drivers.
Johnny VanDoorn won the fast qualifier award with a time of 17.407 seconds (103.407 mph).
James Swan won both the Midwest Truck Series and Mid-American Stock Car Series events.
The ARCA Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment will be back in action on Saturday, May 19th with the Cabin Fever 100 at State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wisconsin.
Visit midwesttour.racing for a full schedule and be sure to follow the ARCA Midwest Tour on Facebook (/midwesttour) and Twitter (@MidwestTour).