By Lonnie Wheatley
EAGLE, Neb. (June 12, 2010) – It took until nearly the middle of June, but Louisiana’s Jason Johnson finally cracked Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National victory lane by capturing top honors in Saturday night’s 30-lap Eagle Nationals championship finale atop the 1/3-mile Eagle Raceway dirt oval.
“The Ragin’ Cajun” raced into the lead from the second row on the opening circuit and led all the way on the top side of the track, taking the checkered flag just ahead of the closing duo of Jack Dover and Shane Stewart.
“When you start up front like that, you have to capitalize and try to get wins,” Johnson explained in victory lane.
While Johnson’s 44th career ASCS National win marked his first as a car owner aboard the Don Ott-powered Jason Johnson Motorsports Haynes/Pope Transportation No. 41 Maxim, he denied local hero Jack Dover a near storybook win after a trip to the hospital following a nasty last-lap crash while running second a night earlier.
“I wasn’t gonna race tonight, but I went out in the heat race and felt good on the first lap,” Dover explained after an overnight stay under observation.
Dover raced his way into Saturday’s redraw with some thrilling sliders from seventh to finish second in the fourth heat behind the night’s top point earner, Ricky Logan, who also took a quick trip to the hospital on Friday night after also being rendered unconscious.
Dover lined up on the front row outside of the feature, with third-place Friday finisher Zach Chappell on the pole. However, it was fourth-starter Johnson that moved to second in the opening pair of corners and then slid past Dover for the lead in turns three and four on the opening circuit.
While Johnson cruised out front much of the way, Chappell and Dover engaged in a spirited duel for second over the middle half of the race, with Dover finally gaining command after a lap 19 caution for Logan, who came to a stop in turn four.
Johnson broke free once again on the lap 20 restart, opening up a ten car-length advantage. But, as the laps wound down, Dover began to reel in the leader along with Shane Stewart, who took third away from Chappell on the 21st round after starting ninth.
Johnson reached the checkered flag just in time, a mere two car-lengths ahead of Dover’s familiar Shaver-powered 3D Auto Transport No. 53 Eagle.
“I knew he’d (Dover) be the guy to beat,” Johnson commented. “He runs here week in and week out anytime we have a weekend off, he knows how to get around this place.”
The 20-year-old Dover stayed in the thick of the points race with a runner-up finish just one night after it looked as if there may be some down time, commenting that, “I wasn’t expecting to race tonight and we ended up second behind Jason, so we’re happy.”
Rebounding from a Friday night flip as well, reigning series champion Stewart worked his way into the show position aboard Paul Silva’s Wesmar-powered Rock Star Energy Drink No. 57 A.R.T.
The Bixby, OK, shoe would have liked more though, explaining, “That’s a couple of nights in a row we had a good enough car to win the race and we’re not the winner, so I’m not 100% happy.” Stewart continued, “Third place is good after last night though, but we’re getting pretty antsy to get this car back in victory lane where it belongs.”
Chappell reeled off his third top-five finish in a row aboard David Chappell’s Wesmar-powered Legend’s Bar-B-Que No. 50z Maxim by crossing the stripe fourth, with Friday night runner-up Travis Rilat rounding out the top five in the Shark-powered F&J Construction No. 29 Triple-X.
Tony Bruce, Jr., was sixth, with rookie contender Dustin Morgan, Friday night winner Danny Wood, leading Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Kyle Hirst and 18th-starter Gary Wright completing the top ten.
Following a ninth-place run on Friday night, Brady Bacon claimed eleventh in Saturday’s main event to escape the weekend with a mere 4-point lead over Jason Johnson in the $60,000 Lucas Oil ASCS championship points race.
Stewart, Bruce, Jr., Matt Covington and Logan topped Saturday night’s heat races, with Hirst and Wright winning the twin “B” Mains.
After flipping in turn four in the night’s opening heat race, Tim Crawley returned for “B” Main action and then utilized his first provisional of the year to claim a 13th place feature finish.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters
Eagle Nationals Championship Finale
Eagle Raceway Saturday Results:
Locked in from Friday Night’s Preliminary Feature:
94-Danny Wood, 29-Travis Rilat, 50z-Zach Chappell, 41-Jason Johnson.
Heat Races (Top 12 in Passing Points to “A” Main; Balance to 2 “B” Mains):
Heat One (10 Laps): 1. 57-Shane Stewart, 2. 22-Billy Alley, 3. 3g-Darren Long, 4. 5h-Justyn Cox, 5. 9x-Gary Wright, 6. 23s-Stuart Snyder, 7. 77-John Klabunde, 8. 12-Tyler Drueke, 9. 88-Tim Crawley.
Heat Two (10 Laps): 1. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 2. 4-Jordan Boston, 3. 93-Dustin Morgan, 4. 99-Brady Bacon, 5. 44-Doug Lovegrove, 6. 31-Mark Pace, 7. 0-Jake Martens, 8. 14g-Gene Ackland, 9. 6b-Nick Bryan.
Heat Three (10 Laps): 1. 95-Matt Covington, 2. 44w-Austen Wheatley, 3. 5-Eric Lutz, 4. 82-Jason Danley, 5. 71-Tige Jensen, 6. 57x-Jake Peters, 7. 23-Terry Holliman, 8. 23r-Tadd Holliman, 9. 87a-Andrew Marshala.
Heat Four (10 Laps): 1. 10a-Ricky Logan, 2. 53-Jack Dover, 3. 21-Brian Brown, 4. 1w-Chad Meyer, 5. 6-Kyle Hirst, 6. 57b-Mike Boston, 7. 7k-Robby Wolfgang, 8. 14s-Bobby Mincer, 9. 17-Channin Tankersley.
“B” Mains (Top 3 From Each Advance to “A” Main):
First “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 6-Kyle Hirst, 2. 23s-Stuart Snyder, 3. 57x-Jake Peters, 4. 57b-Mike Boston, 5. 0-Jake Martens, 6. 88-Tim Crawley, 7. 7k-Robby Wolfgang, 8. 23r-Tadd Holliman, 9. 6b-Nick Bryan, 10. 44-Doug Lovegrove, 11. 87a-Andrew Marshala, 12. 4-Jordan Boston.
Second “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 9x-Gary Wright, 2. 5h-Justyn Cox, 3. 1w-Chad Meyer, 4. 82-Jason Danley, 5. 71-Tige Jensen, 6. 14s-Bobby Mincer, 7. 17-Channin Tankersley, 8. 14g-Gene Ackland, 9. 31-Mark Pace, 10. 23-Terry Holliman, 11. 77-John Klabunde, 12. 12-Tyler Drueke.
Eagle Nationals “A” Main Event:
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 41-Jason Johnson, 2. 53-Jack Dover, 3. 57-Shane Stewart, 4. 50z-Zach Chappell, 5. 29-Travis Rilat, 6. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 7. 93-Dustin Morgan, 8. 94-Danny Wood, 9. 6-Kyle Hirst, 10. 9x-Gary Wright, 11. 99-Brady Bacon, 12. 21-Brian Brown, 13. 88-Tim Crawley, 14. 44w-Austen Wheatley, 15. 95-Matt Covington, 16. 5h-Justyn Cox, 17. 10a-Ricky Logan, 18. 22-Billy Alley, 19. 1w-Chad Meyer, 20. 17-Channin Tankersley, 21. 3g-Darren Long, 22. 5-Eric Lutz, 23. 23s-Stuart Snyder, 24. 57x-Jake Peters.
Lap Leaders: Jason Johnson 1-30.
Note: Tim Crawley and Channin Tankersley both utilized their first provisional of the year to start the “A” Main.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Points (Top 20): 1. Brady Bacon 1,013, 2. Jason Johnson 1,009, 3. Shane Stewart 938, 4. Tony Bruce, Jr. 937, 5. Danny Wood 914, 6. Tim Crawley 906, 7. Jack Dover 900, 8. Zach Chappell 886, 9. Kyle Hirst 860, 10. Matt Covington 826, 11. Travis Rilat 814, 12. Gary Wright 789, 13. Ricky Logan 764, 14. Darren Long 708, 15. Dustin Morgan 687, 16. Austen Wheatley 681, 17. Justyn Cox 667, 18. Channin Tankersley 654, 19. Andrew Marshala 563, 20. Johnny Herrera 501.
ASCS Midwest Points (Top Ten): 1. Jack Dover 812, 2. Billy Alley 750, 3. Eric Lutz 684, 4. Jason Danley 657, 5. Doug Lovegrove 598, 6. John Klabunde 499, 7. Brian Brown 484, 8. Chad Humston 472, 9. Ryan Roberts 470, 10. Tige Jensen 459.