DODGE CITY, Kan. (August 20, 2016) – It was very nearly the week of R.J. Johnson entirely. New Mexico’s Josh Hodges had other ideas though.
After Johnson won the opening two rounds of the USAC Southwest “Freedom Tour” earlier in the week, the Phoenix shoe added a POWRi West Summer Showdown win to kick off Saturday night’s feature action atop the 3/8-mile Dodge City Raceway Park.
And the sweep of the night and “Freedom Tour” was well within reach with Johnson gridding the feature from the pole position. But, after leading the opening half of the race and then once again recapturing the lead, Johnson surrendered the point to Hodges in the final handful of circuits in the 30-lapper.
It was Hodges third overall win of the season aboard the Jackson Compaction/Mesilla Valley Trucking No. 74x Maxim and snapped a run of five consecutive wins for defending champion Johnson.
“That was a bad piece of driving there on my part,” Hodges said of handing the lead back over to Johnson on a lap 24 restart. “I didn’t think there was that much down there, but then I tried it and it stuck. We were fortunate to have a good enough car to get back out front.”
Hodges had chased Johnson from the outset, working the upper portion of the track as Johnson trimmed the berm in each corner.
Johnson kept Hodges at bay over the initial half of the race before Hodges took advantage of a lap 17 restart to take command.
Johnson returned the favor when Hodges left the low side of turn one open on the next restart six laps later. Hodges proved too strong though, battling back into the lead for keeps on the 26th lap and then surviving another pair of cautions with three laps to go to secure the win.
Johnson settled for second with fellow Arizona racer Shon Deskins capturing the show position. Deskins briefly battled past Johnson just past the halfway mark for second before Johnson surged back towards the front.
In just his eighth career wingless start and first of the year, Wichita resident Jeremy Campbell raced to a fourth-place finish with Charles Davis, Jr., rounding out the top five after running third over the initial half of the race.
Tennessee’s Anthony Nicholson finished out his first “Freedom Tour” with a sixth-place run as Dennis Gile, Shannon McQueen, Jordon Mallett and Zach Blurton.
In the POWRi West “Summer Showdown” portion of the evening, R.J. Johnson jumped into the lead at the outset and led all the way in the 20-lapper to become the third different winner of the week as Michelle Decker held off Matt Sherrell for runner-up honors.
Action continues at Dodge City Raceway Park next Saturday night, August 27, with the Third Annual IMCA Sport Modified Mayhem event along with the Precise Racing Products DCRP Sprint Cars, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Stock Cars and IMCA Hobby Stocks.
Dodge City Raceway Park
August 20 Results:
Fourth Annual USAC Southwest Sprint Cars “Freedom Tour”:
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 10c-Jeremy Campbell, 2. 77m-R.J. Johnson, 3. 17w-Harli White, 4. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 5. 20-Shon Deskins, 6. 56x-Mark Chisholm, 7. 98-Ryan Padgett, 8. 15d-Andrew Deal.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 14-Jordon Mallett, 2. 13g-Dennis Gile, 3. 74x-Josh Hodges, 4. 7-Shannon McQueen, 5. 16x-Anthony Nicholson, 6. 5-Tye Mihocko, 7. 2J-Zach Blurton.
Qualifier One (8 Laps): 1. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 2. 74x-Josh Hodges, 3. 77-R.J. Johnson, 4. 20-Shon Deskins, 5. 14-Jordon Mallett, 6. 2J-Zach Blurton, 7. 5-Tye Mihocko. DNS: 15d-Andrew Deal.
Qualifiers Two (8 Laps): 1. 16x-Anthony Nicholson, 2. 10c-Jeremy Campbell, 3. 13g-Dennis Gile, 4. 17w-Harli White, 5. 7-Shannon McQueen, 6. 98-Ryan Padgett. DNS: 56x-Mark Chisholm.
“A” Main (30 Laps): 1. 74x-Josh Hodges, 2. 77m-R.J. Johnson, 3. 20-Shon Deskins, 4. 10c-Jeremy Campbell, 5. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 6. 16x-Anthony Nicholson, 7. 13g-Dennis Gile, 8. 7-Shannon McQueen, 9. 14-Jordon Mallett, 10. 2J-Zach Blurton, 11. 98-Ryan Padgett, 12. 17w-Harli White, 13. 5-Tye Mihocko, 14. 56x-Mark Chisholm, 15. 15d-Andrew Deal.
Lap Leaders: R.J. Johnson 1-16, Josh Hodges 17-23, Johnson 24-25, Hodges 26-30.
POWRi West Midgets “Summer Showdown”:
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 51-R.J. Johnson, 2. 35-Matt Sherrell, 3. 4m-Michelle Decker, 4. 56-Mark Chisholm, 5. 82-Steven Shebester, 6. 44-Don Droud, Jr., 7. 72-Grady Chandler, 8. 17e-Blake Edwards.
Qualifier One (8 Laps): 1. 44-Don Droud, Jr., 2. 4m-Michelle Decker, 3. 51-R.J. Johnson, 4. 35-Matt Sherrell, 5. 82-Steven Shebester, 6. 56-Mark Chisholm, 7. 72-Grady Chandler, 8. 17e-Blake Edwards.
“A” Main (20 Laps): 1. 51-R.J. Johnson, 2. 4m-Michelle Decker, 3. 35-Matt Sherrell, 4. 44-Don Droud, Jr., 5. 82m-Steven Shebester, 6. 14-Grady Chandler, 7. 56-Mark Chisholm, 8. 17e-Blake Edwards.