Danny Johnson Takes Super DIRTcar Series Opener

“The Doctor” Outlasts Stars Sheppard and Hearn for Victory in First Big Block Modified Feature of UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment

BARBERVILLE, Fla. – February 21, 2013 – Despite fierce challenges from Big Block Modified star Brett Hearn and three-time defending Super DIRTcar Series Champion Matt Sheppard, Danny Johnson wheeled the 27J to victory Wednesday, Feb. 20, for the first Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified Series feature of UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment at Volusia Speedway Park.

Although Johnson won the pole in qualifying rounds, Sheppard jumped to the lead off the initial green. He didn’t stay there long, losing the top spot to Johnson after a restart in lap four. Johnson maintained his lead for the rest of the 30-lap feature, battling lapped traffic, a second caution and a last-minute battle with Hearn.

“We had some great racers next to us and a great racing surface out there,” said Johnson, who hails from Rochester, N. Y. “I don’t know how it was from the other side, but it sure was exciting from my side.”

Johnson’s victory Wednesday comes on the heels of a successful practice night Tuesday, Feb. 19. “The Doctor” Johnson made fast time in the first round, but fell to fourth in the second round.

“We tried making it faster yesterday, but actually made it slower in the second set of hot laps,” Johnson said. In the mean time, his team seems to have found the right formula.

After the race’s first caution, Johnson held an ever-expanding lead over runner-up Sheppard, until lapped traffic in lap 11 added an extra challenge. Sheppard gained ground on Johnson as the two navigated through lapped cars, and just when it seemed like he might be able to steal the lead, Sheppard’s 9s suddenly spun and brought out caution in lap 26. An issue with his tear-offs causing low visibility for Sheppard, the champion driver was less able to visually gauge speeds and distances of the cars ahead.

“I got in there hot behind that lapped car. I thought I was going to tag him, and I hit the brakes too hard,” said Sheppard, who then lost handling and spun 180 degrees. “I’m just glad nobody hit me when I spun out.”

With no damage sustained, Sheppard returned to the race, starting at the rear of the lead lap cars with just four laps to go. He gained three spots to finish 11th.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Sheppard, pleased to be able to continue to run a good car for the remaining UNOT DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment features. “We were a little off – we had the car a little too tight tonight, but we were still in the hunt. It would have been a heck of a finish I think.”

With Sheppard taken out of the running for the lead, Hearn, then in third, pulled up next to Johnson for the restart. Johnson, finding a sweet spot in the outside groove, took the outside, but Hearn powered hard at the green and the two were neck-and-neck. However, Johnson was able to claim a decisive lead within a lap, and kept it through lap 30 for the win.

“I was sitting up tall in my seat, there’s no doubt about it,” said Johnson, thankful his 27J was able to maneuver the Volusia turns at full throttle. “I pretty much went into the corner wide open, and when the car turned it didn’t stumble, bump, it did what it had to do.”

“We would have liked to have won tonight, but we can’t be ashamed about second,” said Hearn. “We qualified good like we needed to. It’s important to do that all week long and get some good starting positions in the features. We’ll just chew on it and try to get a little better.”

The racing continues today, with the first of three consecutive nights of back-to-back World of Outlaws Late Models Series and Super DIRTcar Series feature events. Gates open at 5 p.m. and racing starts at 7:30 p.m. every night. For the latest news about UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment, follow @DIRTcarNats on Twitter.

UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment

February 20, 2013

Volusia Speedway Park

Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified Series

A-Main (30 laps): 1. 27J Danny Johnson, Rochester, N. Y. ($2,000); 2. 20 Brett Hearn, Sussex, N. J.; 3. 22c Mario Clair, Saint-Edouard, Quebec; 4. 21a Pete Britten, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; 5. 5 Jimmy Horton, Neshanic Station, N. J.; 6. 21K Randy Chrysler, Lewiston, N. Y.; 7. 3 Justin Haers, Phelps, N. Y.; 8. 85f Stewart Friesen, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario; 9. 7 Rich Laubach, Quakertown, Penn.; 10. 85J H. J. Bunting III, Milford, Del.; 11. 9s Matt Sheppard, Waterloo, N. Y.; 12. 34B Andy Bachetti, Sheffield, Mass.; 13. Dan Vauter, Clifford, Penn.; 14. 74 Tim Fuller, Edwards, N. Y.; 15. 49 Francois Bernier, Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec; 16. 901 Eric Kormann, Vineland, N. J.; 17. 8R Rob Bellinger, Dexter, N. Y.; 18. 323 Neil Williams, Pittsgrove, N. J.; 19. 1 Darwin Greene, Susquehanna, Penn.; 20. 79 Jeremy Markle, Port Jarvis, N. Y.; 21. 29 Chris Ostrowsky, Conklin, N. Y.; 22. 8 Rich Scagliotta, Bound Brook, N. J.; 23. 97 Michel Chicoine, Ste-Cecile-de-Milton, Quebec; 24. Mat Williamson, St. Catharines, Ontario; 25. 34 Steve Hough, East Greenbush, N. Y.; 26. 10J Alan Johnson, Middlesex, N. Y. DNS: 5* Tyler Siri, Corning, N. Y.; 10 Billy VanInwegen, Sparrowbush, N. Y.; 14 C. G. Morey, Rutland, Vt.; T21 Roger Chrysler, Lewiston, N. Y.; 42b Kevin Bates, Lake Ariel, Penn.; 48too Dave Rauscher, Waterloo, N. Y.; 64 Daniel Nadeau, Marieville, Quebec; 66w Dexter Stacey, Kahnawake, Quebec; 88 David Allen, Palmyra, N. Y.; 99 Bruno LaPage, Mapplegrove, Quebec; 518 Kyle Sheldon, Nassau, N. Y.

Heat 1: 1. 27J. Danny Johnson; 2. 10J. Alan Johnson; 3. 49. Francois Bernier; 4. 7. Rich Laubach; 5. 21K. Randy Chrysler; 6. 85. Dan Vauter; 7. 10. Billy VanIwegen; 8. 901. Eric Kormann; 9. 6. Matt Williamson; 10. 14. C.G. Morey.

Heat 2: 1. 9s. Matt Sheppard; 2. 22c. Mario Clair; 3. 85f. Stewart Friesen; 4. 74. Tim Fuller; 5. 34. Steve Hough; 6. 99. Bruno LaPage; 7. 88. David Allen; 8. 48T. Dave Rauscher; 9. 66w. Kevin Bates.

Heat 3: 1. 20. Brett Hearn; 2. 30. Jamie Mills; 3. 5. Jimmy Horton; 4. 97. Michel Chicoine; 5. 8r. Rob Bellinger; 6. 64. Daniel Nadeau; 7. 8. Rich Scagliotta; 8. 518. Kyle Sheldon; 9. 34B. Andy Bachetti.

Heat 4: 1. 21a. Peter Britten; 2. 3. Justin Haers; 3. 85J. H.J. Bunting III; 4. 79. Jeremy Markle; 5. 323. Neal Williams; 6. 1. Darwin Greene; 7. 29. Chris Ostrowsky; 8. 5*. Tyler Siri; 9. T21. Roger Chrysler.

Consi 1: 1. 85. Dan Vauter; 2. 901. Eric Kormann; 3. 6. Matt Williamson; 4. 99. Bruno LaPage; 5. 10. Billy VanIwegen; 6. 48T. Dave Rauscher; 7. 88. David Allen; 8. 66w. Kevin Bates.

Consi 2: 1. 34B. Andy Bachetti; 2. 1. Darwin Greene; 3. 8. Rich Scagliotta; 4. 29. Chris Ostrowsky; 5. 5*. Tyler Siri; 6. 518. Kyle Sheldon; 7. 14 C.G. Morey; 8. 64 Daniel Nadeau.

Timed Hot Laps: 1. 21a Pete Britten, 18.182 seconds; 2. 20 Brett Hearn, 18.454; 3. Justin Haers, 18.501; 4. 9s Matt Sheppard, 18.507; 5. 30 Jamie Mills, 18.713; 6. 1 Darwin Greene, 18.758; 7. 79 Jeremy Markle, 18.852; 8. 34B Andy Bachetti, 18.904; 9. 85f Stewart Friesen, 18.913; 10. 29 Chris Ostrowsky, 18.947; 11. 5 Jimmy Horton, 18.974; 12. 22c Mario Clair, 19.035; 13. 34 Steve Hough, 19.111; 14. 85J H. J. Bunting III, 19.151; 15. 323 Neal Williams, 19.167; 16. T21 Roger Chrysler, 19.170; 17. 8 Rich Scagliotta, 19.201; 18. 518 Kyle Sheldon, 19.228; 19. 99 Bruno LaPage, 19.238; 20. 27J Danny Johnson, 19.296; 21. 74 Tim Fuller, 19.332; 22. 88 Dave Allen, 19.360; 23. 10J Alan Johnson, 19.403; 24. 5* Tyler Siri, 19.456; 25. 97 Michel Chicoine, 19.612; 26. 7 Rich Laubach, 19.637; 27. 49 Francois Bernier, 19.703; 28. 21K Randy Chrysler, 19.942; 29. 48too Dave Rauscher, 19.957; 30. 42B Kevin Bates, 20.143; 31. 85 Dan Vauter, 20.247; 32. 10 Billy VanInwegen, 20.278; 33. 6 Mat Williamson, 20.315; 34. 8R Rob Bellinger, 20.406; 35. 64 Daniel Nadeau, 20.642; 36. 901 Eric Kormann, 20.752; 37. 14 C. G. Morey, 21.259; No Time: 66w Dexter Stacey