Weedsport, NY — December 29, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing Northeast PR Director
All-time DIRTcar Racing Northeast Big-Block Modified feature winner Alan Johnson is all set to make the trip to Florida for a seventh straight winter come February. The car carousel continues to turn for ‘A.J. Slideways’ as 2009 will mark the sixth different team that he has opened the season with down south since the start of the new millennium.
When the mighty Modifieds compete in February for the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida, Johnson will be buckled into a familiar no. 14J Troyer ride although this season sporting sponsorship from Chiefs Tobacco & Gas and owned by Dave Thompson.
“It’s definitely been hard to get into a good rhythm lately, but certainly better than not racing,” figured Johnson, now 51, who kicked off the ’08 campaign at Volusia steering the Sherlock Motorsports Tri-State Roofing TEO entry before closing out the season up north aboard the no. 1J Jake Spraker Used Cars & Trucks-Spra-King Racing/Bicknell machine.
“Dave actually wanted me to run his small-block a couple times over the summer but we just had too many conflicts. I stayed in touch and things finally came together when I went to his shop in November. It’s over a five hour drive from my place to Hogansburg (NY) so I’ll probably just be going back maybe one more time to get fitted (seat). I still don’t even know the guys on the team very well yet,” remarked Johnson, who owns a DIRTcar NE high total of 358 Big-Block wins and 114 more in a Small-Block although just one has come at VSP despite capturing Florida tour point titles in 1983 and ’89.
Johnson will have an entire week to get well acquainted with crew chief Mike Burdick and his new Troyer team when the Advance Auto Parts Modified mini-series at Volusia begins February 11 and runs through February 14. DIRTcar’s 21st trip to gator country for the Big-Blocks features three 30-lap main events and a $5,000-to-win 50-lap finale on Saturday with optional practice sessions offered Tuesday, February 10.
Thompson hopes to make a return trip to the Sunshine State in February and see his squad leave the same way it did two years ago when younger brother Danny Johnson dominated in the no. 27J car with two wins to sew up the 2007 Florida DIRTcar Nationals Championship. Thompson last attended race weeks ‘06 at Volusia with current Advance Series hotshoe Dale Planck and Canadian standout Stewart Friesen doing double duty in a pair of his King Enterprises/Troyer mounts.
“I thought about getting out this last season with the family getting bigger and the business taking up more time,” said Thompson, 32, who fielded a car in ’08 for Frankie Caprara that he drove to seventh-place in the final Mr. DIRTcar point standings. Before initially teaming up with Danny Johnson in July of 2006, Thompson made his Advance Series debut earlier in the season with third-generation driver Friesen and Planck followed up by a brief stint employing the services of Kyle Jacobs in his Quality Concrete rides.
“I’ve been good friends with Alan for awhile and helped him when he won Mr. DIRT in ’06 for Tony (Laughing) and the NativePoker.Com team. We talked more lately and the timing was just right. We’ll have three new Troyer cars and some new Bedell big-block motors. I’ve also got a couple small-blocks for Alan to use in special shows so we’ll see what we can do,” Thompson added.
Johnson won the first of two consecutive Mr. DIRTcar crowns for Elaine-James Motorsports in 2002 and drove the same Doughboy Racing no. 1 at Volusia the following February. Upon termination of that team he joined forces early in ’04 with Troyer Race Cars operator Billy Colton and the H&H Motorsports tandem of John Holland and Al Heinke.
Prior to finishing third in Florida points last winter, Alan made a trial run with Roby and Randy Sherlock in 2005 while the Laughing/Rudalavage duo kicked off their championship campaign at Volusia in ’06. Johnson teamed with Canadian car owner Wallace Stacey down south in 2007 and may use his equipment on weekends once again for the upcoming season.
“Right now I’m planning to drive for Dave in the Advance Series and on Sundays at Cayuga County, anything else is on my own,” noted reigning Cayuga County points king Johnson, a five- Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block Champion, who remains the only driver to win at least one Big-Block feature every year of DIRTcar’s existence beginning in 1976. “And that would mean using Wallace’s stuff on Friday and Saturday. It’s a long season, anything can happen. Hopefully, we’ll get off to a good start and keep things going the rest of the way.”
Joining Johnson on the list of more than 30 chauffeurs expected to make the haul south are all-time Alltel DIRTcar Nationals Big-Block feature winner and defending Florida Tour co-champion Brett Hearn, reigning Mr. DIRTcar points king Billy Decker and his Gypsum Express teammate Larry Wight, fellow New Yorkers Planck and Matt Sheppard, New Jersey star Jimmy Horton, Delaware driver Jamie Mills, Vermont invader Dave Camara, Massachusetts native Andy Bachetti plus Texans Doug and Jason Ingalls
Any drivers wishing to update team information for the pre-race roster, please contact DIRTcar Northeast PR Director Tom Skibinski by phone (585/350-8997) or through e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org correspondence. Specific questions regarding rules can be directed to Cory Reed (315/224-9009), DIRTcar NE Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning.
Tickets are on sale for the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals, February 3-14, at Volusia Speedway Park during the holidays, available for any individual night and also in blocks for each headline division. Along with the Big-Block Modifieds, competition also features Sprint Car racing (Feb. 3-8), Late Model action (Feb. 9-14) and UMP DIRTcar Modified activity (Feb. 3-10). For tickets call the track directly at 386/985-4402 or visit https://volusia.ticketdirector.com/ticketdirector.web.ui/SelectEvent.aspx on-line.
For additional information, contact the DIRTcar Northeast Office (315/834-6606) during normal business hours or log into www.dirtcarnationals.com. Advance Series Big-Block Modified news is always available on the internet at www.superdirtcarseries.com.
Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket retailer of parts, accessories, batteries, and maintenance items in the United States, serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets As of April 19, 2008, the Company operated 3,291 stores in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Additional information about the Company, employment opportunities, customer services, and on-line shopping for parts and accessories can be found on the Company’s web site at www.advanceautoparts.com.