NICK JOHNSON CLINCHES FIRST THOMPSON LATE MODEL TITLE; EDGES TOM CAREY III FOR WHELEN ALL AMERICAN SERIES CROWN
Story By: Kyle Souza/TSMP
THOMPSON, Conn. – When you look at the final NASCAR Whelen All American Series Late Model point standings at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, you see four drivers who captured a checkered flag. In fact, those four drivers were the only competitors to celebrate in Victory Lane this season in a division that saw 29 drivers take the green flag at least once.
But, at the top of those standings, the eventual champion of the 2018 season had a zero in the win column. Nick Johnson, a native of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, is celebrating his first Thompson championship in the No. 6, even though he didn’t visit Victory Lane. Johnson finished in the top five in all seven races, including a fifth-place in the season-finale, which helped him seal the crown.
Johnson was the only driver to score top five finishes in every event, and also the only driver to finish inside the top-10 in all seven races. He defeated Tom Carey III by just a mere three points in the closest battle across all four of the Whelen All American Series divisions at Thompson.
“Not at all,” Johnson said when asked if he thought he could win the title at the beginning of the season. “My immediate thought was I just wanted to come and win. We didn’t even think we were going to run a full-time schedule but one thing leads to another, and here we are.”
Entering the finale, Johnson knew he wasn’t going to win the title by just comfortably riding around the .625-mile oval. He started deep in the back, and watched Tom Carey III, his closest challenger, pull away from him. Carey got all the way to the front, and finished third, just inches behind Buddy Charette for that spot.
Even though he finished in front of Johnson on the track, it wasn’t enough to get the title.
“Honestly, going into the season, the goal was really to win races. We didn’t achieve that goal, but it ended up leading to the championship,” Johnson said. “Once we ended up leading the championship standings, it was going to be hard to back away from it. We decided to just run with it and see what we could do.”
In the end, after seven months, Johnson’s decision turned out to be the right one. While he defeated Carey but just three, Mark Jenison, who won the final race of the season, ended just 13 points out after doing everything he could.
William Wall was fourth, 15 back, while Ryan Morgan, who won a season-high three races, rounded out the top five.
“Those few laps, I was just watching the yellow car (Carey) and making sure I stayed with it,” Johnson said. “There were a few times where I had no where to go, and I was fast enough to pass, but it’s not really a track you can run three-wide. I just had to have patience, wait, and when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. I was pretty surprised to be honest.”
Johnson will be officially crowned champion at the 2018 Banquet & Awards Celebration, with a date to be announced at a later date.