By Lonnie Wheatley
COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. (July 23, 2010) – Jason Johnson extended his mastery of the Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters swing through the Northwest by wiring the field in Friday night’s 30-lap preliminary main event at Cottage Grove Speedway for his third win in a row.
“The Ragin’ Cajun” gunned into the lead at the outset and led all the way aboard the JJR Don Ott-powered Haynes/Pope Transportation No. 41 Maxim for his fourth series win of the year and 47th career ASCS National triumph.
Perhaps more importantly, the Eunice, LA, native extended his lead in the $60,000 championship points race to 73 markers over reigning series champion Shane Stewart, who was shuffled to back to fourth behind Brady Bacon and Seth Bergman in Friday night’s final circuits. Bacon, Bergman and Stewart locked into Saturday night’s $6,000-to-win main event along with Johnson.
“I can’t say enough about these guys,” Johnson commented of his pit crew in victory lane. “They’re giving me such a great car right now, it’s been like driving a Cadillac the last three nights.”
Originally slated to start the feature inside the second row, Johnson moved up to the pole position when originally scheduled pole starter Shane Forte was forced to scratch from the main event with a bent valve.
It made for 30 laps of chasing Johnson for the rest of the feature field, as he outgunned Bergman for the lead at the drop of the green and worked the ¼-mile oval at a pace that nobody else could match.
Johnson weathered a pair of cautions in the opening seven rounds for 17-year-olds Mack Brown and Logan Forler, who both stopped in turn four, and then one last caution with just three laps to go before capturing the checkered flag.
Following Forler’s stop after seven laps, Johnson reached traffic in just four rounds and then spent the next 16 circuits maneuvering through lapped traffic well ahead of the likes of Bergman, Bacon, Shane Stewart and Kyle Hirst, who all engaged in a fierce battle for position.
When the race’s final caution flew with just three laps remaining for current ASCS Northwest points leader Roger Crockett, who cut a tire while battling for fifth and rolled to a stop in turn two, Johnson had a handful of cars between himself and his closest chasers and cruised to the stripe unabated.
After battling for the runner-up position with Stewart over much of the middle portion of the race, 20-year-old Bacon snared the spot on the 24th round and then survived the late scramble in traffic to secure second place in Mike and Megan Eubanks’ Wesmar-powered Tel-Star Communications No. 99 Triple-X.
“Me and Shane and Bergman got kinda bottled up there behind some lapped cars and they weren’t being very courteous with us so we were kinda having to move ‘em a little bit,” Bacon explained of the frantic final laps. “Jason got away and got some lapped cars between us, so we weren’t gonna get him. We’re happy with second and getting locked in for tomorrow night.”
After holding down second place over the opening nine rounds before slipping off the top of turn four and falling back several positions, ASCS Northwest shoe Bergman battled back into the show position over the final circuits aboard the Wesmar-powered Corridor Electric No. 23 Eagle.
“The guys gave me a car to win tonight and I screwed up and drove off the racetrack, I had to get it in high gear there and get back up there,” Bergman explained after bouncing back from a rough Grays Harbor double the previous weekend.
Stewart held on for the fourth and final lock-in position aboard Paul Silva’s Wesmar-powered Rock Star Energy Drink No. 57 A.R.T., with Jason Solwold battling past Hirst in the final rounds to round out the top five aboard the No. 39c.
Tony Bruce, Jr., crossed the stripe in sixth, with Tim Crawley in seventh. Hirst slipped from fifth to eighth in the final three circuits, with 16th-starter Danny Wood and Jack Dover completing the top ten.
Bruce, Jr., Stewart, Channin Tankersley and Forte topped heat race action for the 38-car field, with Matt Covington and Jayme Barnes winning the twin “B” Main.
The Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters Second Annual stop at Cottage Grove Speedway concludes with Saturday night’s $6,000-to-win event, which gets under way at 6:45 p.m.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters
Cottage Grove Speedway Friday Results:
Heat Races (Top 16 in Passing Points to “A” Main; Balance to 2 “B” Mains):
Heat One (10 Laps): 1. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 2. 88-Tim Crawley, 3. 53-Jack Dover, 4. 93-Dustin Morgan, 5. 10-Kyle Miller, 6. 94T-Steven Tiner, 7. 50z-Zach Chappell, 8. 57c-Chris Schmelzle, 9. 22-Garen Linder, 10. 44w-Austen Wheatley.
Heat Two (10 Laps): 1. 57-Shane Stewart, 2. 23-Seth Bergman, 3. 2L-Logan Forler, 4. 39c-Jason Solwold, 5. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 6. 19-T.J. Hartman, 7. 10a-Ricky Logan, 8. 88x-Brent Hoover, 9. 5h-Justyn Cox, 10. 26-Sammy Wright.
Heat Three (10 Laps): 1. 71-Channin Tankersley, 2. 41-Jason Johnson, 3. 99-Brady Bacon, 4. 6n-Billy Nutter, 5. 94-Danny Wood, 6. 11w-Shane Broers, 7. 08-Steve Vague, 8. 5d-Josh DeWitt, 9. 98m-Mitch Olson.
Heat Four (10 Laps): 1. 26f-Shane Forte, 2. 96-Mack Brown, 3. 6-Kyle Hirst, 4. 11-Roger Crockett, 5. 7n-Jayme Barnes, 6. 95-Matt Covington, 7. 55-Trey Starks, 8. 3g-Darren Long, 9. 57x-Billy Butler.
“B” Mains (Top 3 From Each Advance to “A” Main):
First “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 95-Matt Covington, 2. 19-T.J. Hartman, 3. 5d-Josh DeWitt, 4. 50z-Zach Chappell, 5. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 6. 10a-Ricky Logan, 7. 3g-Darren Long, 8. 44w-Austen Wheatley, 9. 98m-Mitch Olson, 10. 10-Kyle Miller, 11. 88x-Brent Hoover.
Second “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 7n-Jayme Barnes, 2. 94T-Steven Tiner, 3. 6n-Billy Nutter, 4. 55-Trey Starks, 5. 5h-Justyn Cox, 6. 11w-Shane Broers, 7. 26-Sammy Wright, 8. 57c-Chris Schmelzle, 9. 22-Garen Linder, 10. 08-Steve Vague, 11. 57x-Billy Butler.
Cottage Grove Speedway Preliminary “A” Main – Top 4 Locked into Saturday’s $6,000-to-win Finale:
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 41-Jason Johnson, 2. 99-Brady Bacon, 3. 23-Seth Bergman, 4. 57-Shane Stewart, 5. 39c-Jason Solwold, 6. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 7. 88-Tim Crawley, 8. 6-Kyle Hirst, 9. 94-Danny Wood, 10. 53-Jack Dover, 11. 93-Dustin Morgan, 12. 94T-Steven Tiner, 13. 11-Roger Crockett, 14. 95-Matt Covington, 15. 71-Channin Tankersley, 16. 10a-Ricky Logan, 17. 50z-Zach Chappell, 18. 7n-Jayme Barnes, 19. 2L-Logan Forler, 20. 6n-Billy Nutter, 21. 19-T.J. Hartman, 22. 5d-Josh DeWitt, 23. 96-Mack Brown, 24. 26f-Shane Forte (DNS).
Lap Leaders: Jason Johnson 1-30.
Note: Zach Chappell and Ricky Logan both utilized provisionals to start the main event. It was the second of the year for both.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Points (Top 20): 1. Jason Johnson 1,703, 2. Shane Stewart 1,630, 3. Brady Bacon 1,588, 4. Jack Dover 1,537, 5. Tim Crawley 1,453, 6. Tony Bruce, Jr. 1,450, 7. Zach Chappell 1,425, 8. Danny Wood 1,416, 9. Kyle Hirst 1,382, 10. Ricky Logan 1,343, 11. Matt Covington 1,286, 12. Travis Rilat 1,152, 13. Darren Long 1,146, 14. Channin Tankersley 1,111, 15. Dustin Morgan 1,080, 16. Justyn Cox 1,058, 17. Austen Wheatley 1,056, 18. Gary Wright 911, 19. Andrew Marshala 823, 20. Johnny Herrera 501.
ASCS Northwest Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Roger Crockett 1,442, 2. Jason Solwold 1,400, 3. Mitch Olson 1,330, 4. Jayme Barnes 1,299, 5. Seth Bergman 1,287, 6. Henry Van Dam 1,246, 7. Trey Starks 1,098, 8. Garen Linder 1,066, 9. T.J. Hartman 1,031, 10. Steven Tiner 1,016.