A stacked field is expected when the ARCA Midwest Tour heads to Jefferson Speedway this weekend for the Salute the Troops 100. (Doug Hornickel Photo)
A stacked field is expected when the ARCA Midwest Tour heads to Jefferson Speedway this weekend for the Salute the Troops 100. (Doug Hornickel Photo)

Stacked Field Expected For ARCA Midwest Salute The Troops 100

JEFFERSON, Wis. – A stacked field of super late models are entered for this Saturday’s ARCA Midwest Tour Salute the Troops 100 at Jefferson Speedway.

Champions and challengers from six states will contest the 100-lap feature event at the quarter-mile paved oval, including Jefferson track champions Shaun Scheel and Dale Nottestad, Jefferson and ARCA Midwest Tour champion Casey Johnson and ARCA Midwest Tour champions Dalton Zehr, Ty Majeski and Jonathan Eilen.

Three drivers have won the last nine track championships at Jefferson. Johnson, who won during the tour’s most recent visit to Jefferson in 2019, is the two-time defending ARCA Midwest Tour champion. Based on the strength of his three track titles at Jefferson Speedway, coupled with his record six Wisconsin State championships at the quarter-mile paved oval, Johnson has to be counted amongst the local top guns.

Having won back-to-back track championships in 2019 and ’20, Shaun Scheel will make his second super late model start and his first at his home track. Scheel is the only driver not named Johnson or Nottestad to add his name to the Wisconsin State Championship list in the past nine years, completing the feat in 2015. Dale Nottestad, a two time State champion, is the current Jefferson and Big 8 Series point leader on the strength of his opening event feature wins. The five-time track champion will wheel his super late model on Saturday night for the third time in 2021.

Way back in 2008 Jonathan Eilen hauled the winnings home to Minnesota from Jefferson Speedway. The 2012 Midwest Tour champion is once again at the top of his game heading into Saturday night’s Showdown. Likewise, four-time Midwest Tour champion Ty Majeski claimed top honors in 2017, one of his Tour leading 25 all-time wins. Having won the 2020 Snowball Derby in Florida, Majeski is back in Wisconsin between his NASCAR endeavors hunting for trophies. Meanwhile, 2018 Tour champ Dalton Zehr had what was perhaps the fastest car in the closing stages of the Joe Shear Classic earlier this month. The veteran driver settled for third on the podium and appears to have that program running in top order.

The driver winning the Joe Shear Classic earlier this month was Rich Bickle Jr. Now Bickle, who is set to retire at year’s end, will make what is likely his last start at Jefferson on Saturday night, the track where he started his racing career. His father, Rich Bickle Sr. was the 1972 track champion. Bickle did not slow down after his first Midwest Tour win in the Joe Shear Classic as he followed it up with a win on opening day at Slinger Super Speedway. Another Touring Star with a hot hand is Paul Shafer Jr, the 2013 Illiana Motor Speedway and 2020 Grundy County Speedway champion. Shafer clicked off three straight super lat emodel victories at Grundy to start the season, only to be edged at the line last Friday night. Shafer’s first Tour win came at Jefferson in 2018.

It was Austin Nason setting the fastest qualifying lap during the Tour’s last visit to Jefferson in 2019. Nason has won three Tour events at three tracks, Madison, Rockford and The Milwaukee Mile. The second generation racer has plenty of laps at Jefferson and finished second two years ago. Another driver to keep an eye on is Gabe Sommers. Sommers, like Nason, is a former rookie of the year and point runner-up on the Tour. Sommers has one Tour victory, coming at State Park Speedway during his rookie season. Making a rare Tour appearance is Brandon Hill, who has one Tour win. Dillon Hammond has also indicated he will return as a Touring Star in 2021, looking to build upon his two career top-five performances.

Two drivers are battling for Rookie of the Year honors this season and both have a championship winning pedigree. Max Kahler grew up racing go-karts just down the street from Jefferson Speedway and will now return as a Kulwicki Development Driver and the reigning Big 8 Late Model Series champion. Kahler wowed the crowd last year, winning the National Short Track Championships at Rockford Speedway in the closing laps, scooting past Dale Nottestad. Meanwhile, the 2019 Midwest Truck Series champion Levon VanDerGeest has now turned his attention to super late models. Becoming the youngest winner in the history of The Milwaukee Mile two seasons ago, VanDerGeest has turned many heads in his young career.

Three drivers will look to make their first ARCA Midwest Tour starts on Saturday night and all three have a proven track record at Jefferson. Finishing second last Saturday night, Riley Stenjem, the 2018 Jefferson Rookie of the Year and the winner of two out of three Wisconsin State Championship features in 2019, is set to climb behind the wheel of his super late model. The super late model Jefferson track record holder has also filed an entry for the Salute the Troops 100 as Jordan Devoy makes his first Tour appearance. Luke Westenberg has multiple late model victories at Jefferson and will now try his hand in the Midwest Tour at his home track.

Amassing 14 wins and two track championships in 2020, there was no driver that won more in the region than Justin Mondeik. Mondeik leads a host of champions into Saturday night including a pair of Lake Geneva Raceway champions Jamie Wallace and Russ Blakely, a pair of Wisconsin Challenge Series champions in Ryan Farrell and John Beale and three-time Fox River Racing Club Late Model Champion Braison Bennett.

Joining the ARCA Midwest Tour will be the Hobby Stocks and Bandit Spectacular. Spectator gates open at 3 p.m., qualifying is slated for 5 p.m. with the first race at 7 p.m.. Adult general admission tickets are $20, Seniors, Military and Students are $15, Kids ages 8-11 are $7 with ages under 8 admitted free.

All active and retired military will again be invited onto the track prior to the Salute the Troops 100 for driver introductions and to give the command to start the engines. For fans unable to attend in person, the race will be broadcast live by SPEED SPORT TV affiliate MidwestTour.TV.

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