ACCORD, NY ? On an historic day for New York state dirt-track racing, Danny Johnson brought down the curtain on the 2015 outdoor season at Accord Speedway.
For the first time in 27 years, a Northeast dirt-track event was held in December as the Ulster County facility hosted the rain-postponed 'Gobbler' special. Johnson, of Rochester, N.Y., guided Chris Gennarelli's No. 27J to victory in a down-to-the-wire 50-lap big-block/small-block Modified feature before a packed grandstand on an unseasonably warm Saturday.
Johnson earned $5,695 for his efforts at the co-promotion involving speedway promoters Gary and Donna Palmer and Brett Deyo of BD Motorsports Media LLC.
"I always look forward to racing here at Accord," said a smiling Johnson afterward. "If it was closer, I'd be here more often. Thanks to the promoters for giving us a chance to race for this kind of money so late in the year. It feels good going into the winter.
"I can never remember racing this late in New York."
Johnson was a heat-race winner earlier in the afternoon and started from second in the main via a redraw of top qualifiers. At the start, he outgunned first-time Accord participant Tyler Siri to assume the lead.
The first 11 laps of the main spun off caution-free with Johnson approaching lapped traffic as the yellow lights flickered on.
On the ensuing restart, Siri ? a regular on the New York circuit at Black Rock and Five Mile Point speedways ? swept past Johnson to put his No. 5* into the top spot.
Following the race's second caution on the 20th lap, a heated green-flag stretch of 23 laps ensued with Siri leading Johnson and an impressive Billy Van Inwegen, at the controls of Dieter Schmidt's familiar yellow Lincoln Auto Body No. 5. With the leaders catching the back of the field and time winding down, the lead trio at times spread out three wide with Siri running the outside, Johnson the middle and Van Inwegen the extreme inside.
On lap 43, the race's complexion changed dramatically. A scramble on the backstretch resulted in Siri spinning at the entrance of turn three.
Johnson then reclaimed the lead over Van Inwegen. A tangle on the restart drew an immediate yellow. When starter Jeff Merkel unfurled the green, Van Inwegen edged ahead of Johnson entering turn one. Johnson, however, surged back ahead in turn two.
Johnson fended off Van Inwegen over the final seven laps to take the checkered and draw a buzz from the large crowd.
Van Inwegen, of Sparrowbush, N.Y., finished an impressive second, turning around his streak of late-season bad luck since joining forces with iconic north Jersey owner Schmidt.
By Jo Ann Davies
CONCORD, N.C. - Nov. 8, 2015 - For the first time in his young career Canadian Big-Block Modified driver Tim Kerr of Picton, Ontario, scored a Super DIRTcar Series win, and did so on Sunday night at the premier Bad Boy Buggies World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
A strong second-place finish earned Waterloo, N.Y.'s Matt Sheppard his fourth Super DIRTcar Series championship title and the first for team owners, Al and Judy Heinke, of Heinke Baldwin Racing. After his Friday night, fourth place feature finish Sheppard held an 81-point lead over only other title contender, Gypsum Express driver Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y.
Kerr, who managed a 19th-place finish in the Friday night Bad Boy Buggies World Finals, utilized the Saturday rain date to work on his car and their efforts paid off with an $8,000 payday on Sunday.
"This is just awesome," Kerr said in victory lane. "We are not going home for a day at least."
Peter Britten of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, jumped out to the early lead and held the point for the first 30 laps of the 40-lap feature. A slight shift up the track on lap 30 off turn two by Britten gave Kerr the opportunity for an inside power move that took him into the lead on the backstretch. Once in the lead, he was never seriously challenged on his way to the checkered flag. A jubilant crew, led by crew chief Zach Aubertine, greeted their driver in victory lane where Kerr jumped into their arms in celebration.
Britten settled for fifth after leading the most laps. Second-place finisher Sheppard worked his way forward, picking off cars one by one, from his ninth-place starting position. Finishing in positions three and four were Larry Wight in the Gypsum Express #99L and Danny Johnson in the Fingerlakes Livestock Exchange #27j.
Since 2010 when the Big-Block Modifieds joined the World Finals and its unique format of two feature events in the three-day program, seven different drivers have now won the 12 events held to date.
With only one caution on lap 18 for a SDS driver Keith Flach crash in the Gould Erectors # 43, all drivers had to be on top of the wheel to earn their finishing spots.
By MIKE MALLETT
CONCORD, N.C. - For the second consecutive season Danny Johnson put his Chris Genarrelli-owned ride in Victory Lane at the Bad Boy Buggies World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. The ageless veteran campaigner used a nifty pass on an early restart to assume the lead and eventually the $8,000 Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series win.
"I had a great race car with a great team behind me," said Johnson, of Rochester, N.Y. "To be here in Victory Lane after last year is pretty cool. We had a good hot rod. We actually got the same car we had last year. It's working really well for us. We are really happy with it."
Jimmy Phelps drew the pole for Friday night's feature that was shorted to 30-laps from 40 due to Mother Nature. Phelps jumped to the early lead as he battled outside pole-sitter Carey Terrance. Terrance hopped the cushion in turn one allowing Phelps to slide up in front of him for the top spot. As Phelps got traction on the cushion, Johnson worked low to take second on the backstretch after starting third.
The duo remained the top two when caution was displayed for the first time on lap three. Craig Von Dohren spun on the backstretch collecting Rick Laubach and Mike Mahaney. Both Von Dohren and Mahaney were done for the night while Laubach was able to continue on.
For the restart, Phelps elected to use the bottom with Johnson pulling up alongside. Phelps got a good restart with Johnson able to hang with him on the outside. As they raced into the first turn Johnson followed Phelps to the cushion before diving low as he exited turn two. From there Johnson pulled even heading into the third corner before sliding up in front of Phelps for the lead in turn four.
"He (Phelps) was tight so I knew I had to go to the top and diamond off the corner," Johnson said. "I knew he was going to go to the top coming out so I had to get to the top going in so I could get to the bottom coming out."
At that point Johnson began to pull away. He enjoyed a comfortable advantage as Heinke-Baldwin Racing teammates Phelps and Sheppard duked it out for the runner-up position. Phelps kept Sheppard at bay for the first third of the race.
The second caution came on lap 11 when Stewart Friesen slowed with issues on his No. 66. The Sprakers, N.Y., pilot was forced to head to the pit area. Johnson held the lead with Phelps, Sheppard, Billy Decker and Larry Wight completing the top five.
That running order was short-lived because once the race resumed it was a free for all for position as they raced to the first corner. Johnson was the leader while Decker, Sheppard and Wight, who was over the cushion, were all able to get by Phelps as he pushed up the track through the turn.
Decker closed on Johnson as the laps started to click off. 20 laps were showing complete just as Johnson started catching the tail of the field. Decker took advantage of the slower traffic to close in. After a couple of laps Decker was on the back bumper of Johnson looking for the lead, but before an opportunity presented itself, the field was brought under yellow one more time on lap 22. Erick Rudolph slowed with mechanical issues and Carey Terrance spun to avoid him on the frontstretch.
The ensuring green flag saw Johnson keep the lead with a three-car jingle between Decker, Wight and Sheppard in turns one and two. As a result of all the contact Wight was able to secure second. Decker hopped the cushion and nearly collected all three drivers. The mistake by Decker allowed Johnson to pull away. He easily led the final seven laps to be the first to the checkered flag.
Wight, of Phoenix, N.Y., was pleased to get back to second after an early race bobble. Wight started 10th but got shuffled back early. He rallied on the extreme outside of the speedway. He put his LJL Racing owned car in a groove that no one else was willing to run allowing him to pass cars at will to get back to the front.
"The top was wide-open above the cushion," Wight said. "We were able to get up there above it and run some good laps to make some time up. We fell back to 15th or so. We really didn't want to beat on the car that much tonight and hopefully we didn't hurt it too much for tomorrow. We ended up bending up a radius rod on the right front otherwise I think we had something for Danny (Johnson). We held on to finish in the top two."