RJ Sweet In KoD Small Block Affair

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RJ Sweet In KoD Small Block Affair

Story By: Tom Boggie/Albany-Saratoga Speedway

Photos By: Dave Dalesandro/RacersGuide.com

MALTA – What’s the difference between a fourth-place car and a first-place car?
The sweet spot.
Ronnie Johnson found that sweet spot Friday night, rocketing out of his seventh starting spot to win the 40-lap King of Dirt 358 Series Small Block Nationals that brought the curtain down on the 2018 racing season on Albany-Saratoga speedway.
Johnson took the lead away from front-row starter Bobby Varin on lap 13 and held off a late challenge from Marc Johnson to record his fourth victory of the season.
The previous week, Ronnie Johnson had finished fourth in a special 40-lap small block race at the Malta track, and anyone who knows Ronnie Johnson knows he isn’t happy with fourth.
“We had a fourth place car last week,” he said. “We tuned on it all week and had a good Kevlar motor tonight.
“This is the car we ran our big block in, and then dropped a small block it in. My crew worked hard all week making adjustments, and we found a sweet spot,”
With the first 37 laps being run under green, there were great battles going on all over the track, but the real show was in front, with Ronnie Johnson, Varin and Marc Johnson the principle players. Early in the race, Varin was running the outside groove, but Ronnie Johnson, who had set fast time during time trials, was really hooked up on the bottom and it was only a matter of time before his momentum put him into the lead.
That pass came on lap 13 and even when Ronne Johnson got into lapped traffic, Varin couldn’t close the gap.
But Marc Johnson, who had started on the pole, started to put pressure on Varin for the No. 2 spot, and finally moved past Varin’s Palmer Services-sponsored car for second on lap 32.
Ronnie Johnson took a couple of laps to clear the lapped cars of Rich Ronca and Olden Dwyer, allowing Marc Johnson to draw in on the leader, and Marc Johnson then got the break he needed when
Nick Lussier and Randy Green locked bumpers coming down the front straightaway and came to a spot in the first turn.
Ronnie Johnson got a good jump on the restart, but Marc Johnson didn’t give in, and was on Ronnie Johnson’s rear bumper in the final lap. But Ronnie Johnson never bobbled, and beat Marc Johnson to the finish line by .378 seconds.
“He was good,” said Marc Johnson of the winner. “We were second-best tonight. All three of us ran a hell of a race and it was a good show for the fans. I gave it everything I had.”
Varin crossed the finish line third, and maintained his lead in the series points race. “We had a good car, but got torn up in our heat,” he said. “We bent the front clip, and had to compensate for that. As we went on, it just got freer and freer.”
Completing the top five were Ken Tremont Jr. and Rocky Warner.
“We had a good season,” said Ronnie Johnson. “We had some mechanical failures and if hadn’t been for them, I think we could have given Brett {Hearn} a run in the points race. But this is a nice way to end the season.”
Justin Buff picked up his third win of the season in the 30-lap limited sportsman feature. Buff started sixth and got the lead following a restart on lap 11, leaving Paolo Pascarella and Dan Grignon to battle for second. Pascarella won that skirmish, using another restart on lap 20 to move inside Grignon for the runner-up spot.
Jimmy Duncan held off Randy Miller to win the 20-lap street stock feature. Duncan, who had started ninth, was up to second by lap five and then took the lead away from John Hayes two laps later.
Miller, who started deep in the field, was on Duncan’s rear bumper in the final laps of the race and the two cars bumped together coming out of the fourth turn on the last lap, but Duncan beat Miller to the finish line by .324 seconds.
The CSRA Sprints made their second appearance of the season at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, with Thomas Radivoy going flag-to-flag to get the victory. The win was Radivoy’s second of the season, but was his first trip to victory lane since May 5.
Former Albany-Saratoga Speedway modified star Jeff Trombley finished third, allowing him to maintain the series’ points lead.
The four-cylinders ran their richest race ever, a 40-lap event which paid $400 to both the single cam and double cam winners. But that was the only real change, as Steve Ryan led from flag-to-flag to notch his fourth double-cam victory of the season. Robert Garney was the single-cam winner for the sixth time in 2018.
KING OF DIRT 358 SMALL BLOCK NATIONALS: Ronnie Johnson, Marc Johnson, Bobby Varin, Ken Tremont Jr., Rocky Warner, Jessey Mueller, Matt DeLorenzo, Jason Herrington, Matt Pupello, Matt Depew, Allison Ricci, Demetrios Drellos, Don Ronca, Jimmy Cottrell, Olden Dwyer, Rich Ronca, Lou Torres, Nick Lussier, Jim Introne Jr., Randy Green, Andrew Buff.
LIMITED SPORTSMAN: Justin Buff, Paolo Pascarella, Dan Grignon, Derrick McGrew Jr., Michael Wagner Fitzgerald, Scott Bennett, Rick Rapp, David Boisclair, Travis Billington, Bob Schmidt, Patrick Meehan, Ron George Jr., Jason Miller, Matt Rich, Dylan Bokus, Kevin McCoy, Bryant Moore, Bill Lussier, Thomas VanVorst Sr.
CRSA SPRINTS: Thomas Radivoy, Dalton Herrick, Jeff Trombley, Josh Pieniazek, Darryl Ruggles, Alysha Ruggles, Tyler Cartier, Dana Wagner, Emily Van Inwegan, Brandyn Griffin, Johnny Kolosek, Tyler Jashembowski, Jerry Sehn, Jesse Pruchnik, Erik Jennings, Dustin Purdy, Justin Miller, Peter Dance, Mike VanPelt, Luke Klob .
STREET STOCKS: Jimmy Duncan, Randy Miller, John Filarecki, Al Relyea, Josh Smith, John Hayes, Phil Arnold, Pete Vila, Luke MacIsaac, Harold Chadderdon, Tim McFarland, Jody Thew, Josh Hemming, Adam Tranka.

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