Johnson Rules NeSmith River Rumble
JACKSON, Miss. – The defending NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National champion Ronnie Johnson zeroed in on his second straight $20,000 series title with his sixth win of the season on Friday night during night one of the Delta Dirt Nationals at Jackson Motor Speedway in the River Rumble 40.
The National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame inductee took the lead on the opening lap from his outside row starting spot and never looked back. The only way the rest of the field could stay with Johnson was when they bunched up behind him for the four restarts after caution periods. The Chattanooga Flash carried a 5.189 second margin of victory under the checkered flag.
“The car wasn’t very good in hot laps, so we made some adjustments and that made the car good for the rest of the night,” Johnson said. “This race car has been good to us this season, so we haven’t done much to it. When a race car is as good as this one, you tend to just leave it alone.”
The first race of the Delta Dirt Nationals took the green flag with Johnson grabbing the lead followed by Chris Noah, Chase Edge, Henry Cooper and Marcus Minga. On lap two, Cooper got into the back of Edge causing him to spin in turn one to bring out the first caution flag of the race. Cooper was ticketed with the caution flag, and Edge got his spot back.
On the restart, Minga drove under Edge to take the third spot. Cliff Williams charged from his ninth starting position to pass Edge for fourth on lap three. Johnson had pulled out to a half-straightaway lead by lap five.
Williams continued his charge to the front of the pack, as he stepped to the outside in turn three to pass Minga for the third spot. Edge found a groove he and his race car liked at the bottom of the track, and he got underneath Minga in turn three to reclaim the fourth spot. Johnson was setting a fast enough pace to begin lapping cars on the tail end of the lead lap by lap ten.
The second caution flag of the race came out on lap 19 when Doug Sanchagrin spun in turn one. When the field formed up for the “Dixie Style” double-file restart, Johnson had Noah, Williams, Edge, Kody Barber, Minga, Jake Knight, Jason Cliburn, Richie Beasley and Jimmy Cliburn doubled up behind him.