The “Doctor” Danny Johnson wins the Super Dirt Week “Kickoff Party” at Weedsport Speedway – DTD Exclusive

By KEN BRUCE

WEEDSPORT, NY – Danny Johnson started his quest for a third trophy in dirt racing’s biggest race by winning the 358 DirtCar kickoff race Wednesday night at the new and improved Weedsport Speedway. Johnson battled long time rival and nemesis Brett Hearn for much of the race before finally getting around past Hearn on lap 57.  He went from there to take the checkered flag.

“This car has been so fast since we purchased it three years ago,” said a jubilant Johnson about his Chris Gennarelli owned Bicknell Chassis hot rod. “It is definitely my favorite car to drive and it showed tonight.”

Gary Lindberg and Billy Decker driving the number seven usually driven by Scott Kerwin brought the field down to take starter Dave Farney’s green flag with Decker squeezing by Lindberg on the outside to lead lap one. Decker was able to hold the lead until lap seven when Hearn powered by to assume the top spot. One lap later Johnson moved past Decker into second and the race was on from there.

Hearn was able to open up a small advantage until Tyler Dippel slowed on the backstretch to bring out the first yellow of the race on lap 12. Dippel pitted and returned to the back of the field. The top five at this point were Hearn, Johnson, Decker, Pat Ward and Lindberg. As the field went back to green Hearn was able to keep his lead over Johnson as Ward was able to get by Decker and move into the third spot with Matt Sheppard also getting by for fourth dropping Decker to the fifth position.

The caution flag flew only one lap later as the field bunched up coming out of turn two with Jeff Strunk and David Hebert getting the worst of it ending Strunk’s night. Hebert was able to pit and return to the field. The next 13 green flag laps were a treat to watch as Hearn and Johnson battled for lead while also artfully dodging lapped traffic. This continued to lap 26 when Dippel spun on the backstretch and had to towed off done for the night.

Once the green came back out the battle continued and it looked like Johnson had made the pass for the lead only for the yellow to be displayed once again before the lap could be completed handing the lead back to Hearn. Once the race resumed it was a classic battle between the two veteran drivers that we as fans have had the pleasure of watching battle for the past 25-30 years. As the field completed lap 57 Johnson finally worked past Hearn to assume the lead and never looked back after that as he masterfully worked his way though lapped traffic to take Dave Farney’s checkered flag.

Hearn finished second with Ward holding off Decker for third and a charging Erick Rudolph finishing up in the fifth position.

As you would expect Johnson was one happy racecar driver after his big victory.

“My car got really good there at the end and Brett’s car seemed to get a little tight when the track widened out a little bit. I knew it was a long race and we had a good car and I just tried to be patient. It’s really cool to be on this victory hill with the flowers and all. They have done so much great work here and it sure is a pleasure to perform well and get up here on the mountain.”

Hearn, although disappointed he couldn’t hold on for the win, was still pleased with run they had.

“I drove the car as hard as I could the whole race and every time I thought I was getting away I saw some orange on my left side. I figured he was better than I was at the end. We had a good car but we got beat by one that was a slightly better than us, it’s that simple. It was a good team effort, we have worked so hard for Super Dirt Week this year and we look forward to qualifying tomorrow and then going out to Brewerton tomorrow night. Look we have no bumps or bruises and we got second place so that’s not too bad.”

Ward finished third and was happy he was able to hang on for the podium finish.

“We needed to be a little tighter, it got a little slicker than I thought it was gonna. Turns one and two you could keep it right to the floor and make it stick but turns three and four you had to be careful not to get in too hot or you would get sideways. Lapped cars probably helped with keeping Billy (Decker) behind me. We were good at the end.”

Decker who led early and fell back to fifth was able to work his way to a fourth place finish in a strange car.

“That’s a good race car, at the end there I thought we were better than a fourth place car but it took me a little bit to figure out what it liked. I think we can make a couple of small adjustment and make it a little better for tomorrow night (Brewerton). “

The always subdued and quiet Rudolph made a late race charge to garner a fifth place finish.

“I think if we might have had a caution later in the race we could’ve improved and maybe finished a couple of spots better. Fifth place is not too bad, there is definitely a lot of competition here. We’ve been running good with this #25 car all year. I didn’t expect any problems with running poorly and I am really proud of my team and how hard they have worked on it and how it ran today.”

In the 30-lap DIRTcar Sportsman feature that capped off the night, Dave Marcuccilli continued his dominance with his fourth win of the season at Weedsport.

He officially led every single lap – though Tony Finch II briefly put his car out front on a restart before Marcuccilli passed him ahead of the start-finish line – and survived a crash-filled event to finish 2.683 seconds ahead of Brad Rouse.

Brian Pessolano finished third, and Finch came in fourth and Brett Senek came in fifth.

RESULTS

MODIFIEDS (75 LAPS): 1) Danny Johnson, 2) Brett Hearn, 3) Pat Ward, 4) Billy Decker, 5) Erick Rudolph, 6) Matt Sheppard, 7) Larry Wight, 8) Ryan Susice, 9) Jimmy Phelps, 10) Gary Lindberg, 11) Ryan Godown, 12) Danny Creeden, 13) Vince Vitale, 14) Steve Bernard, 15) David Hebert, 16) Alan Johnson, 17) Yan Bussiere, 18) Kyle Weiss, 19) Roy Bresnahan, 20) Kenny Willis, 21) Gage Morin, 22) Mario Clair, 23) AlanTherrien, 24) Chris Raabe, 25) Randy Chrysler, 26) TylerDippel, 27) Jeff Strunk, 28) Tommy Flannigan, 29) JordanMcCreadie, 30) Neal Williams.

SPORTSMAN (30 LAPS): 1) Dave Marcuccilli, 2) Brad Rouse, 3) Brian Pessolano, 4) Tony Finch II, 5) Brett Senek, 6) Rocky Warner, 7) Jesse Cotriss, 8) Ron Davis III, 9) ShanePecore, 10) Mathieu Desjardins, 11) Bruno LePage, 12) Todd Root, 13) Greg Ezard, 14) Darryl Nutting, 15) Greg Doust, 16) Kane Bristol, 17) Joey Ladouceur, 18) Tristan Draper, 19) Louie Jackson Jr., 20) Jessica Power, 21) Dan Ferguson, 22) Joe Kline, 23) Mike Stacey, 24) Mike Taylor, 25) Jim Spano, 26) Corey Wheeler, 27) Brianna Ladouceur, 28) James Michael Friesen, 29) Zack Sam, 30) Tyler Meeks, 31) Matt Guererri.