Jeff Holtz racing with Ty Majewski. [Roy Schmidt Photo]
by Kari Shear-Carlson
June 11, 2016 – Rockford Speedway held up to its reputation tonight as one of the most unpredictable tracks on the ARCA Midwest Tour presented by Scag Power Equipment circuit. Last year’s event went caution free until lap 91, but tonight didn’t hold up to that.
Twenty-two cars took the green flag for the 23rd All-Star 100 event, led by Ricky Baker and Jeff Holtz. Holtz grabbed the lead on the first lap. As Baker got a little crossed up, last year’s runner-up, Trent Snyder moved into second. The remainder of the field was tight, with all the contenders wanting to go, but unable to get clear of one another.
Mikie Breiner brought out the first caution as he spun in turn two, only three laps in. The field lined up for the double-file restart with Snyder and Holtz side-by-side on the front row. Snyder took the top spot and played defense against Holtz to hold onto the position.
The middle of the field was full of action as Majeski was maneuvering his way to the front. Andrew Morrissey, Austin Nason, Steve Rubeck and VDL Fuel Systems fast qualifier, Paul Shafer Jr, were all beating and banging on one another fighting for positions.
The second caution came out on lap 18 when Casey Johnson went around on his own in turn two as he and Nason were fighting hard in the middle of the field. Johnson had to restart at the rear.
Snyder continued to lead after two attempts at the restart. Holtz went hard into the corner allowing Baker to get around him. He squeezed ahead of a hard charging Majeski to hold onto the third spot.
Jim Olson had a strong run going for the fifth spot, but he and Chris Weinkauf got together which resulted in a chain reaction and last year’s Rookie of the Year, Austin Nason launched over the driver’s side of Weinkauf in turn four. Nason’s night came to an end as he was towed back to the pit area. Weinkauf also went to the pit area, later to return.
Baker snagged the lead at the restart but drifted high allowing Snyder to close in on his bumper. As the two were gathering it up, Ty Majeski used the middle lane going between Holtz and Baker and took the lead. Holtz closed in on his bumper, Baker fell back to third and Snyder held on for fourth
Halfway into the 100 lap race, Majeski held about a straightaway lead over Holtz, Baker, Snyder, and Shafer. But all that changed four laps later as the most unexpected moment of the night took place. Majeski was coming out of turn two and moving to the inside to put Chris Weinkauf a lap down. Weinkauf was also coming down to allow Majeski the outside, but the two got together and Majeski ramped up onto Weinkauf and the two went into the turn three wall, ending both of their nights, and Majeski’s chance at a second consecutive All-Star 100 victory.
As attrition took its toll, Holtz and Baker were still in it to win it. They led Shafer and Snyder and the remainder of the cars to the green flag once again. Holtz was back in familiar territory taking the top spot over Baker. Snyder moved into third as he and Shafer battled door to door, and Casey Johnson was now back in the mix.
Eilen had some issues in turns one and two and brought out the caution, now with 43 laps to go. Once again Holtz took off in the lead, Snyder now into second and Johnson around Baker as he got a bit sideways but held on for fourth.
Once again, unpredictability reared its head as Snyder, Steve Rubeck, Baker, Shafer and Johnson all got collected in one way or another in turn three. Snyder and Rubeck got the worst of it all. Snyder was in the turn three wall and Rubeck got collected right into Trent’s driver’s side door. Snyder was able to limp his car back to the pit area, but Rubeck watched his car go out on the flatbed with heavy damage to the front end.
Holtz took the lead at the restart yet again. Baker was in second with Shafer and Olson behind him, but only for a moment. Olson spun on his own and was sent to the rear of the field. He was unable to get his car to re-fire and his night was cut short.
Holtz went on to lead the final 38 circuits to win his first ever ARCA Midwest Tour event and first ever Kar Korner All-Star 100. “I can’t believe it! It was a handful, but once I got by myself I was fine. I think Ty Majeski would’ve won if he didn’t get caught up in traffic, but I’ll take it. I’ll take it however I can get it,” said an exhausted, but very happy Jeff Holtz from victory lane.
Casey Johnson, Paul Shafer Jr, Ricky Baker and John Reynolds Jr rounded out the top five.
The next event for the Stars and Cars of the ARCA Midwest Tour is the “Illinois Lottery 50” on Saturday, June 25th at Gateway Motorsports Park. For complete details for this huge event, go to www.arcamidwesttour.com.Be sure to follow the ARCA Midwest Tour on Facebook (/midwesttour) and Twitter (@midwesttour).