By Lonnie Wheatley,Dennis Brownfield photo of the #51 Johnson passing a rival
TUCSON, Ariz. (March 12, 2011) – R.J. Johnson of Phoenix, AZ, carried his late season 2010 momentum over to 2011 by winning Saturday night’s season-opening 30-lap Sunoco Fuel ASCS Canyon Region main event atop USA Raceway’s 3/8-mile clay oval.
A winner in five of the final nine ASCS Canyon Region events of 2010, fifth-starter Johnson took quick advantage of Rick Ziehl’s late misfortune to tally his ninth career Sunoco Fuel ASCS Canyon Region triumph and jump out to the early lead in the championship points chase.
While Johnson started three rows deep, three-time and reigning winged ASCS Southwest champion Ziehl gunned into the lead from the pole position and led much of the way in pursuit of his second career wingless Canyon Region score before a left front tire dismounted and disabled a brake line at the same time.
Johnson pounced into the lead and raced on to the checkered flag in front of 17th-starter Jeremy Sherman, with Ziehl holding on for the show position. Two-time and defending ASCS Canyon Region champion Charles Davis, Jr., was fourth, with Andrew Reinbold rallying from 16th to round out the top five.
Brandon Lane was sixth, with Matt Rossi, Thomas Ogle, Joshua Hodges and Justin Quinn completing the top ten.
Bob Ream, Jr., Ziehl, Josh Grady and Nathan High topped heat race action for the 28-car field, with two-time series champ Jeremy Sherman winning the “B” Main before charging to runner-up honors in the main event.
Ronnie Clark and 2010 ASCS Canyon Rookie of the Year Dalten Gabbard both got upside down in the main event.
Sunoco Fuel ASCS Canyon Region Results from USA Raceway:
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 8-Bob Ream, Jr., 2. 93-Justin Quinn, 3. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 4. 2-Matt Rossi, 5. 23-Josh Castro, 6. 23b-Brian Hosford, 7. 99-James Aragon.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 20z-Rick Ziehl, 2. 51-R.J. Johnson, 3. 6s-Bryan Swinehart, 4. 19-Andrew Reinbold, 5. 97-Kevin Studley, 6. 44k-Koty McGullam, 7. 74b-Derek Williams.
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 12j-Josh Grady, 2. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 3. 16-Mike Martin, 4. 77-Dalten Gabbard, 5. 21-Jeremy Sherman, 6. 9x-Ryan Linder, 7. 12-Josh Pelkey.
Fourth Heat (8 Laps): 1. 62-Nathan High, 2. 9-Brandon Lane, 3. 48T-Thomas Ogle, 4. 6-Ronnie Clark, 5. 8az-Jordan Stetson, 6. 96-Carson Ditsch, 7. 7k-Bruce St. James.
“B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 21-Jeremy Sherman, 2. 32b-Brian Hosford, 3. 23-Josh Castro, 4. 7k-Bruce St. James, 5. 8az-Jordan Stetson, 6. 99-James Aragon, 7. 44k-Koty McGullam, 8. 96-Carson Ditsch, 9. 97-Kevin Studley, 10. 74b-Derek Williams, 11. 12-Josh Pelkey, 12. 9x-Ryan Linder.
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 51j-R.J. Johnson, 2. 21-Jeremy Sherman, 3. 20z-Rick Ziehl, 4. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 5. 19-Andrew Reinbold, 6. 9-Brandon Lane, 7. 2-Matt Rossi, 8. 48T-Thomas Ogle, 9. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 10. 93-Justin Quinn, 11. 16-Mike Martin, 12. 6s-Bryan Swinehart, 13. 7k-Bruce St. James, 14. 12j-Josh Grady, 15. 62-Nathan High, 16. 23-Josh Castro, 17. 6-Ronnie Clark, 18. 8-Bob Ream, Jr., 19. 77-Dalten Gabbard, 20. 32b-Brian Hosford.
Sunoco Fuel ASCS Canyon Region Points (Top Ten): 1. R.J. Johnson 150, 2. Jeremy Sherman 142, 3. Rick Ziehl 135, 4. Charles Davis, Jr. 130, 5. Andrew Reinbold 125, 6. Brandon Lane 122, 7. Matt Rossi 119, 8. Thomas Ogle 116, 9. Joshua Hodges 113, 10. Justin Quinn 110.