The ‘Stars and Cars’ of the ARCA Midwest Tour begin their 2021 season this Sunday afternoon May 2 at Madison International Speedway for the Joe Shear Classic 200. A $10,000 check awaits the winner of the tribute event at ‘Wisconsin’s Fastest Half Mile’. Former Tour Champs that have filed entries include two-time and defending titlist Casey Johnson, four-time Champ Ty Majeski, 2018 Champion Dalton Zehr and 2012 Champ Jonathan Eilen. All told, over 60 Late Model Series and Track Championships will be represented in Sunday’s headline division.
Adding his name to the entry list is record five-time USAC Silver Crown Champion Kody Swanson. Swanson, who has posted two of his record setting 29 Silver Crown triumphs at MIS will now bring a stout Super Late Model to Wisconsin for the first time. Having just won last weekend at Salem, IN in ARCA CRA Super Series competition, Swanson continues a hot streak to start the year in which he also won the World Series of Asphalt Pro Late Model Championship at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in February.
The California open wheel star is not the only driver with a hot hand at the moment. Fresh off his Big 8 Series win at Slinger Super Speedway last Sunday, two-time defending Tour Champion Casey Johnson is amongst the favorites to record his first Joe Shear victory, a race that has eluded him in the late going on multiple occasions including last year. Another driver to win in Big 8 action during this young season is Dale Nottestad. Nottestad, like Johnson is a former MIS and Jefferson Speedway Champion and recorded a clean sweep earlier this month at Rockford Speedway. That same weekend, Kulwicki Development Driver Luke Fenhaus shot to the lead and the victory in Super Late Model competition at Dells Raceway Park.
2020 Snowball Derby Champion Ty Majeski started 2021 with a big win at the Rattler 250 in Alabama only to struggle upon his Wisconsin return two weeks ago. Majeski is the most recent winner on the Midwest Tour, winning a third Oktoberfest 200 last fall and many expect a strong showing out of the 91 camp this Sunday in a race he won in 2016.
Another former Shear winner that will make his return to action is Travis Sauter. His Shear Classic win in 2013 came while he was recording an unprecedented ten consecutive wins at Madison International. The 2018 Joe Shear Classic victor was Austin Nason whom was amongst the ten Super Late Model drivers that turned laps last week at MIS and was at the top of the speed charts. Nason was victorious at the Milwaukee Mile during Tour action in 2019.
He followed up his Rookie of the Year effort with a runner-up finish in the 2020 Midwest Tour point standings, just ten markers behind Casey Johnson. Now Gabe Sommers looks to continue his upward trajectory in 2021. Another driver who continues to improve is 2019 third place point finisher John DeAngelis, Jr. Running select races in the southern US, DeAngelis has found the right combination and raced his way to a runner-up finish two weeks ago in Wisconsin Dells.
Making what is to be his final Joe Shear Classic appearance is the only driver in the field to have competed against the short track legend. Rich Bickle, Jr became a two time Capital Super Speedway Champion in 1985 and 1986 after having learned from Shear a four time Champ at the track now known as MIS. Having won the Snowball Derby five times as well as the Slinger Nationals, National Short Track Championships, Oktoberfest and Dixieland, this is one race Bickle would really like to win. After becoming involved in an early race incident in 2019, Bickle charged back through the field to finish second in the most recent Shear Classic at Madison.
The field is littered with 2020 Late Model Champions. Adding to his Illiana Motor Speedway title, Paul Shafer, Jr collected top honors last season at Grundy County Speedway where he also won the Wayne Carter Classic Midwest Tour event. The winningest driver in the region last year was Justin Mondeik. Scoring his first Tour win in the Larry Detjens Memorial at State Park Speedway, Mondeik recorded fourteen wins on the year and was the Champion at both State Park and Golden Sands Speedway.
2020 marked the seventh consecutive Elko Speedway track championship for Jacob Goede who also was the 2019 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series National Champion. Going head to head at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway against Goede for much of the season, Nick Murgic won the NASCAR Late Model Championship at LaCrosse. Bobby Kendall, the 2020 Fox River Racing Club Champion at Wisconsin International Raceway along with Central Wisconsin Racing Association Champ John Beale have also filed their entries for the 200 lap main event. One driver that will be making his first career ARCA Midwest Tour attempt is 2019 and 2020 Jefferson Speedway Champion Shaun Scheel.
While Scheel looks to make his first start, two young drivers are looking to make their second Midwest Tour appearance. Levon VanDerGeest is the 2019 Midwest Truck Series Champion and became the youngest winner at the Milwaukee Mile that same year, jockeying his truck around the legendary oval and into victory lane. Likewise, Max Kahler is another young gun that is turning heads. Kahler backed up his Super Late Model win in last October’s National Short Track Championships at his home track of Rockford Speedway with a come from behind Big 8 Series Championship effort at LaCrosse.
Not to be overlooked are former track champions and big race winners such as Dennis Prunty, Andy Monday and Ryan Farrell. Prunty is a former Slinger Super Speedway Champion and has won both the Slinger Nationals and Dixieland 250. Monday was the 2017 Fox River Racing Club Champion at WIR while Ryan Farrell is a former Wisconsin Challenge Series Champion. Two drivers with strong ties to the former Lake Geneva Raceway are Jeff Storm and Russ Blakely. ‘Stormy’, a two-time Mid-American Stock Car Series Champ already has a Super Late fast qualifier award under his belt this season while Blakely returns to MIS after a six year absence. Blakely who has the distinction of being a Rookie of the Year both in the NASCAR Elite Division and on Pikes Peak, was the 2000 Lake Geneva Raceway Late Model Champion and would later go on to race in South Africa.
Joining the Midwest Tour will be the Midwest Truck Series and 602 Outlaw Late Models. Spectator gates will open on Sunday May 2 at 10:30am with practice getting underway at 11:30am. Qualifying for all three divisions begins at 12:45pm with the first race at 2pm. Madison International Speedway has no gathering limits in place and tickets will be available at the gate. Fans are encouraged to save money by buying their tickets in advance online at www.misracing.com/tickets Madison International Speedway is located at 1122 Sunrise Road in Oregon, WI, for additional information call 608-835-9700 or visit www.misracing.com. For those unable to attend, this event will be streamed live on the SPEED SPORT Network and midwesttour.tv, watch www.midwesttour.racing for updates and pricing.
Past Winners of Joe Shear Classic 2008 Dan Fredrickson 2009 Nathan Haseleu 2010 Steve Carlson 2011 Ross Kenseth 2012 Andrew Morrissey 2013 Travis Sauter 2014 Nathan Haseleu 2015 Johnny Sauter 2016 Ty Majeski 2017 Andrew Morrissey 2018 Austin Nason 2019 Bubba Pollard 2020 Johnny Sauter (Dells Raceway Park)
Expected Entries Joe Shear Classic 200 ARCA Midwest Tour Sunday afternoon May 2, 2021 Madison International Speedway
30 as of 4/26/21
Gregory BorchardtPrior LakeMN
Travis SauterPrairie Du SacWI
John DeAngelis, JrHubertusWI
Paul Shafer, JrPortageIN
Shaun ScheelLake MillsWI
Jeff StormEast TroyWI
Rich Bickle, JrEdgertonWI
Dillon HammondGrand MarshWI
Ryan FarrellBig BendWI
Dalton ZehrDaytona BeachFL