Danny Johnson races to victory at The Dirt Track at Charlotte for second year in a row
By Mike Mallett
CONCORD, N.C. – Nov. 6, 2015 – For the second consecutive season Danny Johnson put his Chris Genarrelli-owned ride in Victory Lane at the Bad Boy Buggies World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. The ageless veteran campaigner used a nifty pass on an early restart to assume the lead and eventually the $8,000 Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series win.
“I had a great race car with a great team behind me,” said Johnson, of Rochester, N.Y. “To be here in Victory Lane after last year is pretty cool. We had a good hot rod. We actually got the same car we had last year. It’s working really well for us. We are really happy with it.”
Jimmy Phelps drew the pole for Friday night’s feature that was shorted to 30-laps from 40 due to Mother Nature. Phelps jumped to the early lead as he battled outside pole-sitter Carey Terrance. Terrance hopped the cushion in turn one allowing Phelps to slide up in front of him for the top spot. As Phelps got traction on the cushion, Johnson worked low to take second on the backstretch after starting third.
The duo remained the top two when caution was displayed for the first time on lap three. Craig Von Dohren spun on the backstretch collecting Rick Laubach and Mike Mahaney. Both Von Dohren and Mahaney were done for the night while Laubach was able to continue on.
For the restart, Phelps elected to use the bottom with Johnson pulling up alongside. Phelps got a good restart with Johnson able to hang with him on the outside. As they raced into the first turn Johnson followed Phelps to the cushion before diving low as he exited turn two. From there Johnson pulled even heading into the third corner before sliding up in front of Phelps for the lead in turn four.
“He (Phelps) was tight so I knew I had to go to the top and diamond off the corner,” Johnson said. “I knew he was going to go to the top coming out so I had to get to the top going in so I could get to the bottom coming out.”
At that point Johnson began to pull away. He enjoyed a comfortable advantage as Heinke-Baldwin Racing teammates Phelps and Sheppard duked it out for the runner-up position. Phelps kept Sheppard at bay for the first third of the race.
The second caution came on lap 11 when Stewart Friesen slowed with issues on his No. 66. The Sprakers, N.Y., pilot was forced to head to the pit area. Johnson held the lead with Phelps, Sheppard, Billy Decker and Larry Wight completing the top five.
That running order was short-lived because once the race resumed it was a free for all for position as they raced to the first corner. Johnson was the leader while Decker, Sheppard and Wight, who was over the cushion, were all able to get by Phelps as he pushed up the track through the turn.
Decker closed on Johnson as the laps started to click off. 20 laps were showing complete just as Johnson started catching the tail of the field. Decker took advantage of the slower traffic to close in. After a couple of laps Decker was on the back bumper of Johnson looking for the lead, but before an opportunity presented itself, the field was brought under yellow one more time on lap 22. Erick Rudolph slowed with mechanical issues and Carey Terrance spun to avoid him on the frontstretch.
The ensuring green flag saw Johnson keep the lead with a three-car jingle between Decker, Wight and Sheppard in turns one and two. As a result of all the contact Wight was able to secure second. Decker hopped the cushion and nearly collected all three drivers. The mistake by Decker allowed Johnson to pull away. He easily led the final seven laps to be the first to the checkered flag.
Wight, of Phoenix, N.Y., was pleased to get back to second after an early race bobble. Wight started 10th but got shuffled back early. He rallied on the extreme outside of the speedway. He put his LJL Racing owned car in a groove that no one else was willing to run allowing him to pass cars at will to get back to the front.
“The top was wide-open above the cushion,” Wight said. “We were able to get up there above it and run some good laps to make some time up. We fell back to 15th or so. We really didn’t want to beat on the car that much tonight and hopefully we didn’t hurt it too much for tomorrow. We ended up bending up a radius rod on the right front otherwise I think we had something for Danny (Johnson). We held on to finish in the top two.”
Decker, who came into the night second in Super DIRTcar Series point standings, crossed the finish line third. He admitted afterwards that he made a mistake on the restart that cost him an opportunity at a possible victory.
“Like an idiot I rolled the cushion too hard, jumped over it and got us all bottlenecked,” Decker said. “I helped tear Larry (Wight) and Matt (Sheppard) up a little bit. I used up too much of the cushion. We got together pretty good. Luckily we all came out of it.”
Sheppard held on to finish in fourth which helps the Waterloo, N.Y., driver maintain his point lead over Decker going into Saturday’s series finale. Duane Howard moved forward from the 13th spot with his Mike Petruska owned car to complete the top five.
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Super DIRTcar Series Statistical Report; The Dirt Track at Charlotte; Concord, N.C.; Nov. 6, 2015
A-MAIN (30 LAPS) – 1. (27J) Danny Johnson; 2. (99L) Larry Wight; 3. (91) Billy Decker; 4. (9H) Matt Sheppard; 5. (66h) Duane Howard; 6. (1d) Tyler Dippel; 7. (20) Brett Hearn; 8. (98h) Jimmy Phelps; 9. (66f) Stewart Friesen; 10. (21a) Pete Britten; 11. (35) Frank Cozze; 12. (7T) Gary Tomkins; 13. (42P) Pat Ward; 14. (85) H.J. (Bunting; 15. (6) Max McLaughlin; 16. (5H) Chris Hile; 17. (43) Keith Flach; 18. (66x) Carey Terrance; 19. (07) Tim Kerr; 20. (7) Rick Laubach; 21. (8) Rich Scagliotta; 22. (25R) Erick Rudolph; 23. (15) Billy Pauch Jr.; 24. (56b) Mike Bowman; 25. (19) Tim Fuller; 26. (14s) Craig VonDohren; 27. (33) Mike Mahaney; 28. (7z) Mat Williamson.
Qualifying Heats (8 laps, top 4 transfer, winner to the redraw)
Heat 1: Britten, Decker, Friesen, Laubach, Bunting, Bussiere, August Jr., Chrysler, Kerr
Heat 2: J Phelps, Bowman, Pauch Jr., Cozze, Gleason, Mueller, Sears Jr., Tremont, Siri
Heat 3: Sheppard, VonDohren, Howard, Dippel, Ward, DeLorenzo, Rauscher, Sarkisian, D Johnson Jr.
Heat 4: D. Johnson, Rudolph, Williamson, Flach, Fuller, Scagliotta, Hearn, Coffey, Mahaney
Heat 5: Terrance, Wight, McLaughlin, Hile, Blaney, Tomkins, Shingledecker, Vitale, Morey
Time Trials: 1 (21a) Pete Britten, 15.746; 2 (07) Tim Kerr, 15.917; 3 (6) Max McLaughlin, 15.998; 4 (25) Erick Rudolph, 16.062; 5 (56b) Mike Bowman, 16.206; 6 (91) Billy Decker, 16.207; 7 (7) Rick Laubach, 16.208; 8 (66x) Carey Terrance, 16.223; 9 (99L) Larry Wight, 16.283; 10 (66f) Stewart Friesen, 16.291; 11 (27J) Danny Johnson, 16.342; 12 (7z) Mat Williamson, 16.349; 13 (74) Dave Blaney, 16.390; 14 (14s) Craig VonDohren, 16.392; 15 (43) Keith Flach, 16.427; 16 (9H) Matt Sheppard, 16.478; 17 (1d) Tyler Dippel, 16.485; 18 (5H) Chris Hile, 16.505; 19 (7T) Gary Tomkins, 16.535; 20 (37m) Jeremiah Shingledecker, 16.537; 21 (98h) Jimmy Phelps, 16.539; 22 (15) Billy Pauch Jr., 16.544; 23 (66h) Duane Howard, 16.545; 24 (21) Yan Bussiere, 16.590; 25 (19m) Jessey Mueller, 16.600; 26 (14g) Brian Gleason, 16.611; 27 (35) Frank Cozze, 16.658; 28 (21k) Randy Chrysler, 16.677; 29 (62s) Tom Sears Jr., 16.682; 30 (8) Rich Scagliotta, 16.700; 31 (19) Tim Fuller, 16.722; 32 (85) H.J. Bunting, 16.726; 33 (115) Kenny Tremont, 16.729; 34 (42p) Pat Ward, 16.754; 35 (47) Bob Sarkisian, 16.768; 36 (3d) Matt DeLorenzo, 16.778; 37 (56) Vince Vitale, 16.786; 38 (32c) Vic Coffey, 16.914; 39 (33) Mike Mahaney, 17.079; 40 (88) Joe August Jr., 17.168; 41 (20) Brett Hearn, 17.188; 42 (27NY) Danny Johnson Jr., 17.293; 43 (14) C.G Morey, 17.924; 44 (5*) Tyler Siri, 19.657; 45 (48T) Dave Rauscher, NT.
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