By: Kevin Ramsell
West Salem, WI – Andrew Morrissey pulled into the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, WI with a new car and a new car number. He leaves the 53rd Annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend with a second victory in the ARCA Midwest Tour’s Oktoberfest 200.
The Deforest, WI driver, who ranks second overall with the most Midwest Tour starts, held off a late charge from NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Derek Kraus to win the prestigious fall event.
“We just built this new car here, just built it a couple of weeks ago and its been a rocket since we unloaded it,” Morrissey said in victory lane. “The thing has been phenomenal.”
Morrissey was in the top-five for almost the entire event. He would charge his way to the front and taking the lead for the first time from 2022 Tour Champion Casey Johnson on lap 95.
He would give up the top spot on lap 136 when Ty Majeski, who took the Ultimate Challenge and started at the rear of the field, made is his way to the top by taking over the lead from Morrissey.
The five-time Tour champion would hold on to the top spot until the caution flew on lap 152 when Jeff Storm slowed with a mechanical issue.
As the field was coming to get the green, Majeski wasn’t keeping up the pace and the restart was called off with Majeski heading to the pits with his own mechanical issue. He would go to the pits for his team to fix the issue and he would return to the rear of the field.
Kraus would restart on the inside of the front row and would get the lead over Morrissey on the restart.
The caution would fly again on lap 163 after Chad Butz and Nick Panitzke made hard contact with the turn four wall. Panitzke was able to drive away while Butz went off on the hook.
Kraus and Morrissey would battle for the lead at the restart on lap 168. Morrissey would make the final lead pass and get about four car lengths on Kraus.
A final caution on lap 181 when Harley Jankowski came to a stop off of turn four, would tighten up the field for a final restart with 15 laps to go.
Morrissey would be uncontested as he drove to his second Oktoberfest 200 victory. His last victory coming in 2018.
Kraus would hold off a late charge from Johnson to finish second with the new three-time champion finishing third.
Dalton Zehr came back from an earlier spin on lap 63 that caused a melee in turn four, to finish fourth. Gabe Sommers, who also led early in the event, finished fifth.
Majeski would recover to finish sixth.
Kraus was hoping to get back in Midwest Tour victory lane, but came up one spot short.
“It just fired off a little bit tight on the restart and he (Morrissey) was able to get underneath me,” Kraus explained after the race. “Overall it was a fun day to race with Andrew on those restarts. It was kind of a gift given to us with Ty breaking, but he came back to finish sixth. Overall it was a good day and we had a lot of fun.”
Johnson was hoping to defend his 2021 Oktoberfest victory, but earned his third title in the last four years in the Midwest Tour.
“We had a solid run again today and we didn’t have the half tenth speed we needed,” Johnson said. “But to get a third championship in the tour, I mean its fierce competition in the big races and it means a lot to me and my team.”
Harley Jankowski was crowned with the 2022 Rookie of the Year honors.
“I can’t believe I actually did it,” a surprised Jankowski said. “We decided to just run for it, and really didn’t think we had a shot after Madison. We both (rookie contender Tristan Swanson) had motor trouble and it shined a light that might have a chance it and here we are today.”
Justin Mondeik was seventh with Dan Fredrickson in eighth. Jeremy Lepak finished ninth and 2022 Oxford 250 winner Cole Butcher rounded out the top ten with his first start in the Midwest Tour.
You can watch a replay at: midwestour.tv.