Johnson Charges To Merrittville Glory
THOROLD, Ontario – Danny Johnson outmaneuvered his competition Monday at Merrittville Speedway to claim victory in race two of the DIRTcar 358 Modified Series.
“I shocked myself,” said Johnson, who quickly charged from his 16th starting spot to the lead in Monday’s 100-lapper. “You never know what you got until you get out there, and the car was good at the start. I started passing cars and I was able to go right up to the front.”
Ryan Susice started on the pole after picking up a heat race win and finishing fourth overall in time trials. He took the lead at the green flag and maintained his position when an early race caution slowed the pace on lap one.
Meanwhile, Chad Brachmann was quickly gaining ground behind the leader. Brachmann started fifth on the grid, and by lap seven the No. 3 was challenging the No. 28 of Todd Gordon for second. On lap 13, Brachmann overtook leader Susice with a quick backstretch pass on the topside.
Around lap 20,Brachmann reached heavy traffic at the tail of the field, which threatened his reign on lap 27 when a lapped car spun as he went for the pass. Brachmann dodged the other car and drove safely out of harm’s way, maintaining his lead position.
The yellow flag waved for the second time that feature race, and Johnson was able to take full advantage of the lap-35 restart. He leapt into the top-five, challenging Gordon for fourth. By lap 38, he had won the battle and was setting his sights on World of Outlaws Late Models star Tim McCreadie in third.
Johnson pulled up beside McCreadie on lap 42, but McCreadie was making moves of his own and attempted to pass Susice for second, putting Johnson one car length behind. On lap 42, Johnson found speed off turn one to charge between McCreadie and Susice in a three-wide slide job that garnered him second place.
Brachmann held on to the lead after a lap 47 caution and subsequent double-file restart, but Johnson found his opportunity at the next restart following a lap-59 yellow. Johnson powered to the lead at the lap 67 restart, and refused to give up his new position.
A three-car collision on lap 73 involving Brandon Easey, Mario Clair and Ryan Arbuthnot brought the fifth and final caution of the race. At the lap-75 restart, Johnson motored forward and quickly put some distance between the No. 27j and the rest of the field.
Behind him, McCreadie battled with Brachmann in an attempt to claim second, but former race leader Brachmann fended him off. Brachmann finished the race second and McCreadie third.
“I saw Tim (McCreadie) poking his nose under me a couple of times, so I had to alter my line a little bit to defend at the end,” Brachmann said. “I knew I wasn’t going to catch Danny at the end, so we did what we had to do to hold on to second.”
Mat Williamson finished fourth after starting 12th and early race leader Susice finished fifth. Rounding out the top ten are Pete Bicknell in sixth, Robbie Krull in seventh, Mike Bowman in eighth, Chad Chevalier in ninth and Chris Steele in tenth.