Despite a strong showing in the second half of his rookie season in 2017, perhaps no one is more surprised to see John Beale at the top of the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series points as himself. With his win at Jefferson Speedway in Round Four Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes, Beale grabbed a five-point lead over his teammate Casey Johnson.
Much like last year, consistency has kept Beale in the conversation. He rebounded from his 13th Place finish in Kroll’s West Round One at Wisconsin International Raceway with a Fourth Place finish at Marshfield. From there it was a Fifth Place finish at State Park Speedway and the win at Jefferson.
“We started pretty far down, but then we had a good run at Marshfield which helped us out,” Beale said. “At Jefferson we qualified a little better this year than last year, so that helped us move our way to the front. Honestly, I’m not a point racer. I just do the best I can and it falls where it falls.”
Entering the season Beale had high expectations for himself and his teammate Johnson. He felt as though the roles would be reversed and he would be riding shotgun. But with two races remaining, it is Beale who is looking to maintain. His win at Jefferson could prove to be crucial down the stretch.
“It was a lot of fun and got me the points lead which will help out because I’ve got that guy named Casey Johnson behind me,” Beale said. “I’m not taking it for granted. I’ve just got to run it out and see what happens.”
The next two stops could be favorable for Beale, as well. He recorded a Fourth Place finish in last year’s Labor Day race at Golden Sands. He picked up his first TUNDRA fast time in last year’s finale at Dells Raceway Park. Although he sits atop the points, and has past success to build on, Beale said this season already feels a bit different.
“I actually don’t feel like I’m moving through the field like I did last year. Last year I just hauled through the field. I could pass everyone really quickly,” Beale said.
He thinks a bit more patience and better qualifying efforts may be part of an equation that doesn’t see him moving through the field as much, but still scoring Top Fives.
“I think getting rid of that rookie stuff and getting into the sophomore status we’re being a little more cautious,” Beale explained. “That’s helping out in points – plus not going to the back as much and getting in as much trouble. Last year we were tearing up right front fenders about every week. This year we’re not at all.”
With two cars on the race track – both in the title hunt – Beale is very conscious of being conservatively aggressive. First and foremost he wants to see both of his cars finishing races.
“(Casey and I) lined up on a restart and I didn’t like it at all. I don’t want to be near him. The worst thing you could do is have two cars to fix. To get these cars turned around takes a lot of time.”
Certainly that time in the shop spent on preparation rather than repair has been a key to the success both he and Johnson have had so far in 2018. But the question remains, will Beale be able to hold off his hired gun over the final two point races and pick up the title?
“Not with Casey Johnson behind me,” Beale said. “I think as far as guys who race in the Midwest full-time I’d have to say he’s the number one Super Late racer. It’s not just because he races for me, it’s just what I believe.”
Despite deflecting the praise to Johnson, as of right now it’s Beale who is the man to beat. Continued consistency by Beale may make that mountain tough for the rest of the TUNDRA field – including Beale’s teammate – to climb.
TUNDRA swings back into action on Labor Day, Monday, September 3 at Golden Sands Speedway in Plover, Wis. The series will be joined by the Midwest Truck Series and Wisconsin Sport Trucks. Qualifying is at 12:30 p.m. with racing at 2 p.m.
Golden Sands Speedway is located on State Highway 54 between Plover and Wisconsin Rapids. For more information visit www.gssraces.com