From Lonnie Wheatley, Tim Aylwin Photo
MESQUITE, Texas (October 15, 2010) – Starting six rows deep did nothing to deter Jason Johnson from extending his Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National championship points lead as he captured his fifth series win of the year in Friday night’s 37th Annual Devil’s Bowl Winter Nationals 25-lap preliminary feature event.
After race-long leader Zach Chappell popped an engine on the 16th circuit, the “Ragin’ Cajun” rallied past New Mexico’s Johnny Herrera on the restart en route to his 17th overall ASCS feature win of the year aboard the JJR Don Ott-powered Haynes / Pope Transportation No. 41 Maxim.
“Starting back there in twelfth really kind of reminded me of racing back in Pennsylvania with the inverts,” Johnson explained afterward. “I knew we needed to pass eight cars to get locked in for tomorrow, and to pass eleven cars and win this one just says how good this car is working right now.”
The Eunice, LA, native captured his 48th career ASCS National triumph in front of Herrera with a pair of 20-year-old title contenders, Jack Dover and Brady Bacon, locking into Saturday night’s Devil’s Bowl Winter Nationals finale as well by virtue of finishing third and fourth, respectively.
With Johnson starting the feature outside the sixth row, Chappell outgunned pole starter Aaron Reutzel for the lead at the outset with third-starter Herrera moving into second by the third round.
With Chappell and Herrera leading the way, Johnson was on the move in short order. Johnson cracked the top five by the third lap, took fourth away from Joe Wood, Jr., on the fifth lap and then charged past Reutzel for third by the time the lead duo reached the tail of the field on the seventh round.
Up to third and riding in a lock-in position, Johnson settled in over the ensuing circuits as Chappell worked through traffic with ease in pursuit of his third series win of the year aboard the Legends Bar-B-Que and Steakhouse No. 50z Maxim.
“I got up to third and kind of got in a comfort zone and started searching around on the track,” Johnson explained. “I figured there would probably be a yellow flag somewhere along the way, I just didn’t expect it to be Zach.”
It was though, as Chappell’s fortune soured when his engine locked up in turns one and two on the 16th lap to bring out that caution.
Herrera assumed the point, but Johnson made an immediate move for the lead and surged into the top spot as the pair raced down the frontstretch to complete the 16th lap.
“I felt like I had him beat to turn one so I needed to get to the top and knock the wind of his wings entering, hoping he wasn’t gonna come back and slide me,” Johnson explained of the race-winning pass.
Gunning for a second Devil’s Bowl Winter Nationals crown after topping the event in 2007, Johnson was flawless the rest of the way on the ½-mile Devil’s Bowl Speedway clay oval with Herrera a solid second in the JHR No. 45x Maxim.
After a strong heat race performance, Springfield, Nebraska’s Jack Dover backed up from his seventh starting position in the early laps to tenth before moving back up through the field and ultimately to third by race’s end aboard the Shaver-powered 3D Auto Transport No. 53 Eagle.
Narrowly avoiding the need to use a provisional, Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon rallied late to win the night’s first “B” Main and then climbed through the feature field to finish fourth after starting 17th aboard Mike and Megan Eubanks’ Wesmar-powered Tel-Star Communications No. 99 Triple-X.
Devil’s Bowl Spring Nationals winner Sammy Swindell was another one on the move in the feature event, racing from 14th to round out the top five in the Big Game Tree Stands No. 1, with defending series champion Shane Stewart charging from 21st to sixth.
After starting from the pole position, 2009 ASCS Gulf South champion Reutzel finished among the top ten in Devil’s Bowl Winter Nationals preliminary action for the second year in a row by crossing the stripe in seventh.
Making his first start since suffering a severe leg injury in July, Wayne Johnson wired the field in the night’s second “B” Main and then raced from 18th to eighth in the main event.
Joe Wood, Jr., the 2009 ASCS Sooner Region champion, took the checkered flag in ninth, with Tim Crawley completing the top ten.
While there was just one caution flag after the main event got under way, the red flag quickly replaced the green flag at the start when Brian Brown and Kolt Walker tangled and then flipped in grisly fashion down the frontstretch. Both drivers walked away from the melee that also included Ricky Logan, who was able to rejoin the field after quick repairs.
Wood, Jr., Andy Shouse, Reutzel, John Carney II, Darren Long and Dover topped heat race action for the night’s 54-car field, with Bacon, Wayne Johnson and Brown winning the “B” Mains. Long biked it entering turn one on the initial start of the feature to bring out a caution, while Carney II held down fifth until pulling off the track with mechanical issues on the 11th circuit.
Defending Devil’s Bowl Winter Nationals champion Kevin Ramey was leading the night’s first “B” Main when he suddenly lost power on the ninth of 12 laps. Tony Bruce, Jr., was unable to fire for that same “B” Main.
Kyle Hirst got upside down in turn two on the opening lap of the night’s fourth heat race and went on to use a provisional to start the main event after falling three spots shy of a transfer in “B” Main action.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters
37th Annual Devil’s Bowl Winter Nationals Preliminary Results:
Heat Races (Top 16 in Passing Points to “A” Main; Balance to 3 “B” Mains):
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 2. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 3. 14-Michael Lang, 4. 1-Sammy Swindell, 5. 7m-Kevin Ramey, 6. 14e-Todd Evans, 7. 5m-Miranda Arnold, 8. 22k-Kevin Barksdale, 9. 6s-Justin Spoerl.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 27-Andy Shouse, 2. 50z-Zach Chappell, 3. 31-Brandon Berryman, 4. 97b-Aaron Berryhill, 5. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 6. 1j-Danny Jennings, 7. 5-Jerod Roller, 8. 165-Haley Arnold, 9. 22a-Dan Adkins.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 2. 88-Tim Crawley, 3. 30-Brandon Corn, 4. 3x-Michael Dupuy, 5. 0c-Preston Peebles II, 6. 24-David Gailley, 7. 45p-J.P. Bailey, 8. 93-Dustin Morgan, 9. 2-Logan Payne.
Heat Four (8 Laps): 1. 3s-John Carney II, 2. 29-Larry Long, 3. 9x-Gary Wright, 4. 77x-Wayne Johnson, 5. 7-Don Young, 6. 22-Koby Barksdale, 7. 94-Danny Wood, 8. 51w-Wes Miller, 9. 6-Kyle Hirst.
Heat Five (8 Laps): 1. 3g-Darren Long, 2. 41-Jason Johnson, 3. 10a-Ricky Logan, 4. 57-Shane Stewart, 5. 51s-Beau Smith, 6. 45-Martin Edwards, 7. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 8. 10-George White, 9. 87x-Strike Hill.
Heat Six (8 Laps): 1. 53-Jack Dover, 2. 71-Channin Tankersley, 3. 95-Matt Covington, 4. 45k-Kolt Walker, 5. 21-Brian Brown, 6. 99-Brady Bacon, 7. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 8. 20s-Sheldon Barksdale, 9. 5c-Chris Coker.
“B” Mains (Top 2 From Each Advance to “A” Main):
First “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 99-Brady Bacon, 2. 31-Brandon Berryman, 3. 95-Matt Covington, 4. 1j-Danny Jennings, 5. 93-Dustin Morgan, 6. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 7. 45p-J.P. Bailey, 8. 7m-Kevin Ramey, 9. 45-Martin Edwards, 10. 22a-Dan Adkins, 11. 22k-Kevin Barksdale. DNS: 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 87x-Strike Hill.
Second “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 77x-Wayne Johnson, 2. 57-Shane Stewart, 3. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 4. 7-Don Young, 5. 97b-Aaron Berryhill, 6. 30-Brandon Corn, 7. 51w-Wes Miller, 8. 165-Haley Arnold, 9. 5c-Chris Coker, 10. 5-Jerod Roller, 11. 24-David Gailley, 12. 10-George White. DNS: 6s-Justin Spoerl.
Third “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 21-Brian Brown, 2. 45k-Kolt Walker, 3. 10a-Ricky Logan, 4. 94-Danny Wood, 5. 6-Kyle Hirst, 6. 51s-Beau Smith, 7. 14e-Todd Evans, 8. 22-Koby Barksdale, 9. 5m-Miranda Arnold, 10. 0c-Preston Peebles II, 11. 20s-Sheldon Barksdale. DNS: 2-Logan Payne.
37th Annual Devil’s Bowl Winter Nationals Preliminary “A” Main:
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 41-Jason Johnson, 2. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 3. 53-Jack Dover, 4. 99-Brady Bacon, 5. 1-Sammy Swindell, 6. 57-Shane Stewart, 7. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 8. 77x-Wayne Johnson, 9. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 10. 88-Tim Crawley, 11. 9x-Gary Wright, 12. 3x-Michael Dupuy, 13. 10a-Ricky Logan, 14. 71-Channin Tankersley, 15. 6-Kyle Hirst, 16. 14-Michael Lang, 17. 3g-Darren Long, 18. 50z-Zach Chappell, 19. 27-Andy Shouse, 20. 31-Brandon Berryman, 21. 3s-John Carney II, 22. 29-Larry Long, 23. 21-Brian Brown, 24. 45k-Kolt Walker.
Lap Leaders: Zach Chappell 1-15, Jason Johnson 16-25.
Note: Ricky Logan utilized his fourth and final provisional of the year to start the main event and Kyle Hirst utilized his mid-season bonus full-point provisional to start the main event. Hirst has one partial-point provisional remaining.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Points (Top 15): 1. Jason Johnson 2,777, 2. Brady Bacon 2,712, 3. Shane Stewart 2,672, 4. Tim Crawley 2,524, 5. Jack Dover 2,472, 6. Tony Bruce, Jr. 2,471, 7. Zach Chappell 2,426, 8. Danny Wood 2,300, 9. Kyle Hirst 2,284, 10. Ricky Logan 2,268, 11. Matt Covington 2,152, 12. Darren Long 2,038, 13. Dustin Morgan 2,030, 14. Channin Tankersley 1,930, 15. Gary Wright 1,625.