RONNIE JOHNSON WINS WILD 358-MODIFIED FEATURE AT A/S
Warner and Stone Also Cash In
Story By: Matt Keith/Albany-Saratoga Speedway
Photos By: Mark Brown/Albany-Saratoga Speedway
Malta, New York (September 9, 2017 ) – With extra money on the line Ronnie Johnson waited until the final lap of the 40-lap 358 Modified feature to cash in on the $2,500 payday on Friday night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
When a yellow came out with two laps remaining, the huge lead and almost assured win that Jeremy Wilder had was erased. When the final green flag dropped Johnson drove through turns 1 and 2 on the bottom of the speedway below Wilder, who took the high side. As they exited turn 2, Wilder slipped ever so slightly and Johnson powered past him on the bottom, beating Wilder to the checkered flag.
For Johnson, it was an upbeat ending to a tough week. Earlier in the week, he parted ways amicably with car owner Jake Spraker and rolled out his own car for the Tom Clothier Trucking of Corinth, NY sponsored Friday night feature. For the second year in a row, the driver known as “R.J.” was in victory lane. “It feels good to bring our own car here and come away with the victory,” said Johnson.
Twenty-four cars took Rich Peterson’s green flag with Neil Stratton taking the initial lead. Stratton would lead until just after halfway when Jeremy Wilder took the lead away. Meanwhile, Ronnie Johnson, who had started 16th, made his way to sixth by lap 17. Wilder, however, was beginning to stretch out his lead and looked to be on his way to his third win of the season at “The Great Race Place.”
The yellow flag came out with two laps to go and Johnson moved his way to 2nd. Stratton, in an attempt to regain second, spun his car in turn one and brought out the final yellow. On the final restart, Johnson took the lead and went on to the win.
Wilder would have to settle for second with Kenny Tremont coming from dead last to finish third. Demetrios Drellos, the pole sitter, finished in fourth and Jessey Mueller rounded out the top five.
In the “Northeast Crate Nationals King of the Dirt” Sportsman feature, it was track champion Rocky Warner taking home the win and the big $2,225 payday with him. Warner, “The Flying Squirrel,” in his Jake Spraker owned 1J, started from the eighth position by virtue of a draw. David Schilling took the initial race lead from the outside pole in the 100-lap feature. Meanwhile, Warner was in a blanket of cars all vying for fourth place including defending “Nationals” champion Tim Hartman Jr. Warner would win that battle taking fourth place on lap seven.
Just four circuits later around the Malta oval, Warner would pass 2016 track champion Jeremy Pitts for second and set his sights on race leader Schilling. On lap 16, Warner would go to the high side coming off of turn 2, while Schilling was on the bottom stuck behind the lap car of Pat Jones. Warner would blast past them both and into the race lead.
Warner would stretch out his lead to a half a straightaway. Despite a handful of cautions throughout the middle stages of the race, Warner would retake the lead each time. On lap 81 Warner and Schilling would make contact in the backstretch just after a restart. This would allow Chad Edwards to take the race lead.
For the next four circuits, Warner and Edwards, the top two in the “King of the Dirt” point standings, would battle back and forth for the lead. Finally, on lap 85, Warner, the point leader, and 2017 Albany-Saratoga Sportsman champion retook the lead. Warner would lead the rest of the way. Dave Marcuccilli got past Edwards for second with 12 to go. Schilling would end up third with Edwards and Tim Hartman Jr. rounding out the top five.
Nick Stone outdueled Norm Loubier in the final stages of the 50-lap “Sowle Trailer Repair Pro Stock Showdown” taking home the $2,500 prize and his first win of 2017 at “The Great Race Place.” Stone blasted by Loubier for the race lead on lap 45 after having led earlier on lap 29. Loubier who led a large share of the race settled for second. Kim Duell made his way up to finish third, Chucky Dumblewski was fourth and Jason Casey fifth.
Malta Mudbits- All three features on Friday night featured thrilling action with some times 3-or 4-wide racing going on and several lead changes.
Rocky Warner’s win in the “Northeast Crate Nationals” was his 7th career “King of the Dirt Sportsman Series” win and 2nd career “Nationals victory. Warner also drove a Jake Spraker owned 358-Modified to an eighth place finish in the Modified feature. Warner will move to the big block Modified ranks in 2018 driving for Spraker.
The 358 Modified feature sponsored by Tom Clothier Trucking was also for Suicide Prevention and Awareness.
Next Friday night, September 15, will be the final night of racing for 2017 as “The Great Race Place” brings down the curtain on another successful season. On the card will be the “King of the Dirt” 358-Modifieds along with the “Classic Muscle Parts Street Stock Nationals.” The 30-lap affair is the biggest event on the Street Stock calendar and will pay $1,000 to the winner. A $50 lap leader bonus will also be up for grabs. The Sportsman, Limited Sportsman and 4-Cylinder divisions will also be action.
Racing will start at 7 p.m. Grandstand admission is $10 for adults and $2 for children under 11. Pit admission is $20 for members and $25 for non-members. Pit gates open at 4 p.m. Grandstand gates open at 5 p.m.
For the 2017 schedule and up-to-date Albany-Saratoga Speedway information be sure to visit:
Online at www.albany-saratogaspeedway.com
Twitter at http://twitter.com/Albany-Saratoga@Albany_Saratoga
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About Albany-Saratoga Speedway: Conveniently located at 2671 U.S. Route 9, Malta, NY 12020 the 4/10 mile dirt track is approximately one mile North of Exit 12 off I-87. Racing takes place every Friday night at 7 p.m. from mid-April to mid-September and features DIRTcar Modifieds (Big Block / Small Block combined), DIRTcar Sportsman, Limited Sportsman, DIRTcar Pro Stocks, Street Stocks and 4-Cylinders. “The Great Race Place” grandstand gate opens at 5 p.m.; pit gate opens at 4 p.m. The facility provides the ultimate fan-friendly location for motorsports entertainment including free parking and camping.