The first event of start of the 2018 Beale Racing season will go down as a learning and growth experience. The off-season brought Beale Racing into a new shop, new hauler with stacker trailer, new race car and three other optimized cars tweaked and tuned for success. We now have two full-time drivers and a much larger crew going to all events. We had been very busy and were looking to get a big start on the season.
John Beale is the team owner and driver of the 2017 Pathfinder chassis car we call 'Johnny'. This car was named for Casey Johnson who built it last year. Johnny was built primarily to race at Bristol Motor Speedway and other high speed race tracks that can use it's Hammer Racing Engines powerplant. We raced it at Bristol, MIS, Gateway and Nashville during 2017.
John will race Johnny during the full ARCA Midwest Tour since our other 5.3l Wegner engine cars have been disavowed according to 2018 Midwest Tour rules.
Casey Johnson is the lead crew chief of the Beale Racing team. He has built three of the four cars, makes primary setup and race decisions as well as more of the mechanical details to the cars than can be listed here.
Casey drove the 2018 Pathfinder chassis car we call 'Three-some' which is named in honor of being the third car he built for Beale Racing.
This car has a new Wegner Automotive Performance LST engine. This would be the first season Casey has used this powerplant. We had some growing pains over the preseason but on raceday it performed.
ARCA Midwest Tour Joe Shear Classic
The ARCA Midwest Tour Joe Shear Classic has turned into one of the premier events in the country. The normal cast of talented teams and drivers are now being joined by some of the best teams outside of the Midwest. The race had well known names such as Johnny Sauter, Bubba Pollard, and Johnny VanDoorn to add to the star power.
Johnny Sauter is currently leading the NASCAR Craftsmen Truck Series, Bubba Pollard is well known as one of the top Super Late Model drivers. Two time ARCA/CRA Champion Johnny VanDoorn not only showed up for his first race but took the Pole Award.
The day started like every other race day. Our team unloaded cars, pit boxes and prepped for tour practice. John, Casey and Dennis Chase discussed pit strategy and consulted with John Beale Sr on gas mileage performance from Saturdays practice.
After the a team meeting and drivers meeting we lined up for practice. John and Casey took laps and made small tweaks to setup for the all important qualifying. This event would have limits to how many cars could race based on the limited availability of pit stalls. Two cars would not make the feature.
QUALIFYING, HEAT RACES AND LAST CHANCE RACE
John took Johnny out for the qualifying. His car had a race setup and he suffered from a tight turning car. Casey had a looser car and qualifying into the show at p8.
The qualifying performance had limited options for John Beale. He needed to race into the event during qualifying race and then the last chance race. John finished p5 ahead of Johnny Sauter in the Qualifying race. He then raced into the feature by finishing p2 in the last chance race.
Casey did what he always does. He manages his car for the long race ahead. He finished p6 in the dash and would start the feature p8.
The Joe Shear Classic was a 200 lap race with option for pit stops for tires and gas. There were multiple options for pit strategy. Pit on green and go laps down. Pit on yellow and you would have 5 laps to get back into position behind the cars that did not pit and you would not go a lap down.
John Beale started the race p23 while Casey would battle in the top ten the whole race after starting p8. John would move forward to as high as p9 on laps 149 when he got on the gas faster than former Winston Cup driver Rich Bickle Jr. The spin of Bickle would revert John back to the end of the longest line in p17. Casey was sitting in p6 at this time.
The team had pitted twice without issue. John pulled up his big boy pants and raced hard to finish p10. He finished exhausted and hot but would appreciate that he kept hydrating the week of the race.
The last 20 laps.....
Casey Johnson will look back to this race for a long time with all it's ups and downs during the last laps. The lead car of Bubba Pollard had just pulled off as his car had suffered a mechanical issue with 16 laps to go. Moments later the lead two cars of Jonathon Eilen and Johnny Sauter would bring out a caution. The two would be moved to the back.
Casey Johnson would now battle with Austin Nason for the front of the race. Casey discussed with this spotter things to watch out for during this crucial restart. Threesome leapt forward past the waving green flag as Casey looked at the clear track ahead of him. Just three more laps.
Then it happened! Rich Bickle Jr. and Steve Apel had managed to spin each other coming out of turn one. Casey would have to hold off Austin one more time for only two laps. That is the moment we heard the panicked sound of Casey Johnson on the radio. "The car just shutoff!"
The Beale Racing team has refocused after it's first race. John realized he had finished p10, the car had performed well and we would battle with Johnny at Wausau in only two weeks.
Casey's disappointment will only strive him to work and race harder. Teams need to watch out at Saturday's race at WIR for TUNDRA Race number 1. Someone wants a trophy for his girls.
"We know exactly what happened to the car and we will never have it happen again."