LAKE ODESSA, MICH. – August 8, 2012 – It’s not often that veteran Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified driver “the Doctor” Danny Johnson encounters a track he’s never raced, but when he did Tuesday at I96 Speedway, he opened the throttle and raced ahead of the 16-car field to his second 2012 series victory.
“To be able to come here and get a win is an awesome deal for my race team,” said four-time series champion Johnson in victory lane. “They work really hard on the car; it was a lot of hard work and we were one of the last cars in the line getting ready, and it all paid off in the end.” (Photos by James McDonald)
With the 100-lap event at I96 Speedway being the series’ first visit to Michigan and its farthest ever haul westward, the track was a new experience for many drivers on the night’s roster. Johnson identified Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in Elbridge, N. Y. as the closest Northeastern comparison given the speed achieved at both tracks.
“It’s a pretty great facility,” said Johnson, who traveled more than 400 miles from his home in Rochester, N. Y. to be part of the race. “It was really similar to Rolling Wheels. The surface was a little bit different, but it sure was a fast track, it was a big track.”
This inaugural Super DIRTcar Series race at I96 Speedwawy was not a disappointment. The mighty Northeastern Big-Block Modifieds wowed crowded grandstands as they thundered around the famed half-mile oval, showing Midwestern fans what their 800-plus horsepower are capable of.
Johnson started fifth in the feature after getting the seventh-best time trial with an 18.860-second lap and placing fourth in his heat. He charged ahead at the green flag, almost immediately passing Justin Haers, Rich Scagliotta, and Tyler Siri, getting to the second spot by lap 4.
However, he wasn’t as fast at the start as Baldinsville, N. Y., native Jimmy Phelps, who jumped from his third starting spot to first place in lap 1 and became the race’s early leader.
Johnson tailed Phelps for 50 caution-free, traffic-ridden laps until he found the opportunity to slide past him in turn four of lap 52. Surviving two double-file restarts and a final caution in lap 71, Johnson wheeled his #27J Page Trucking-Honeyoye Auto Parts-Waste Management/Bicknell machine through the checkered flag in the lead for his second 2012 series victory.
Two-time defending series champion “Super” Matt Sheppard followed Johnson across the finish line, earning his second runner-up finish in as many days. Sheppard, like Johnson, demonstrated to the Midwestern crowd his racing prowess despite, rising from tenth in the starting lineup.
“We had a good car tonight,” Sheppard said. “It was hard to pass for a long time there and we did really well to fight our way from tenth to second”
Almost immediately rising a rank at the green flag, Sheppard soon thereafter passed Scagliotta for the eighth spot. Siri fell from sixth to eighth in lap 11, allowing Sheppard to take seventh. He remained in seventh for several laps until he found an opportunity to pass Mat Williamson and Justin Haers, rising to fifth in lap.
Sheppard’s biggest boon was his strength coming off the restarts that plagued the second half of the race. He found enough speed coming off a single-file restart in lap 75 to maneuver past Jimmy Phelps, Gary Tomkins and Billy Dunn, putting him in second by lap 77. He closed in on leader Johnson, but was unable to make enough headway to pass him in the mere 20 laps remaining.
“It’s great to see the fans out here in Michigan. Hopefully we put on a good show for them,” Sheppard said.
The Super DIRTcar Series continues with round eight Thursday, Aug. 16, at Lebanon Valley Speedway. For the latest news and updates about the Super DIRTcar Series, “like” DIRTcar Racing on Facebook or follow the @SuperDIRTcar Twitter feed.
Super DIRTcar Series, Round 7
August 7, 2012
A-Main (100 laps): 1. 27J Danny Johnson, Rochester, N. Y.; 2. 9s Matt Sheppard, Waterloo, N. Y.; 3. 49 Billy Dunn, Watertown, N. Y.; 4. 84 Gary Tomkins, Clifton Springs, N. Y.; 5. 98h Jimmy Phelps, Baldwinsville, N. Y.; 6. 56 Vince Vitale, Phoenix, N. Y.; 7. 6m Mat Williamson, St. Catherines, Ontario; 8. 3H Justin Haers, Phelps, N. Y.; 9. 8R Rob Bellinger, Dexter, N. Y.; 10. 10 Tim Currier, Auburn, N. Y.; 11. 8s Rich Scagliotta, Bound Brook, N. J.; 12. 21K Randy Chrysler, Tuscarora Nation, N. Y.; 13. 5* Tyler Siri, Watkins Glen, N. Y.; 14. 48T Dave Rauscher, Waterloo, N. Y.; 15. 21a Pete Britten, Brisbain, Queenlands, Australia/Spencerport, N. Y.; 16. 72 Tommy Flannigan, St. Catherines, Ontario
98h Jimmy Phelps (1-51)
27J Danny Johnson (52-100)
Heats: (8 laps, all qualify, top 6 to redraw)
1: 1. 21a Pete Britten, 2. 9s Matt Sheppard, 3. 27J Danny Johnson, 4. 10 Tim Currier, 5. 5* Tyler Siri, 6. 8s Rich Scagliotta, 7. 8R Rob Bellinger, 8. 48T Dave Rauscher
2: 1. 98h Jimmy Phelps,2. 6m Mat Williamson, 3. 84 Gary Tomkins, 4. 49 Billy Dunn, 5. 3H Justin Haers, 6. 56 Vince Vitale, 7. 21K Randy Chrysler, 8. 72 Tommy Flannigan
Time Trials: 1. 21a Peter Britten (18.531)2. 6m Mat Williamson (18.682), 3. 9s Matt Sheppard (18.698), 4. 98h Jimmy Phelps (18.733), 5. 10 Tim Currier (18.756), 6. 84 Gary Tomkins (18.781), 7. 27J Danny Johnson (18.860), 8. 49 Billy Dunn (18.943), 9. 8s Rich Scagliotta (18.955), 10. 56 Vince Vitale (18.969), 11. 5* Tyler Siri (18.675), 12. 3H Justin Haers (19.070), 13. 8R Rob Bellinger (19.267), 14. 21K Randy Chrysler (19.267), 15. 48T Dave Rauscher (19.613), 16.72 Tommy Flannigan (19.775)
The Super DIRTcar Series and DIRTcar Racing in the Northeast Region is brought to fans by several sponsors and partners including Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels, Chevy Performance Parts, Gander Mountain, NAPA Auto Parts, Nationwide Insurance, and Safety-Kleen. Promotional partners include the University of Northwestern Ohio. Contingency sponsors are ASI, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix, ButlerBuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Intercomp, JE Pistons, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, MSD Ignition, Penske Shocks, Racing Electronics, Superflow, Vicci Racing Apparel, WIX Filters, Wrisco Industries, and Xtreme Lubricants.