RJ Johnson Wins Freedom Tour Finale at DCRPAugust 23, 2015
Lonnie Wheatley, DODGE CITY, Kan. (August 22, 2015) – Reigning USAC Southwest Sprint Car champion R.J. Johnson of Laveen, AZ, put the wraps on the Third Annual “Freedom Tour” by winning Saturday night’s 30-lap main event atop the 3/8-mile Dodge City Raceway Park clay oval.
While Johnson held off Ryan Bernal and Charles Davis, Jr., for the $2,500 payday, other winners on the night included Brendon Gemmill in IMCA Modifieds, Marlin Hogie in IMCA Stock Cars and Matt O’Hair in IMCA Hobby Stocks.
With his triumph, Johnson became the fourth different winner in as many rounds of USAC Southwest “Freedom Tour” action after Charles Davis, Jr., Blake Hahn and Mike Martin topped the opening three legs.
“We’ve struggled so bad all week long that we finally broke out the backup car tonight,” Johnson said in victory lane. “If you ask me, I think the backup car is pretty damn good.”
After topping the third and final heat race after Stevie Sussex and Martin won the first pair of heats, Johnson gridded the field outside the second row with Davis, Jr., and McQueen leading the way to the green flag.
Looking for his second win of the week, Davis, Jr., gunned into the early lead Shon Deskins and Johnson making their way past McQueen for second and third, respectively, on a lap three restart following Michael Bonneau’s turn two flip.
With Davis, Jr., working the top side of the track in the Massey Motorsports No. 50, Johnson began working the low side and was making progress in short order. Johnson surged past Deskins for second on the eighth round and then raced past Davis, Jr., for the lead three laps later.
As the lead pack fought for space on the bottom, Ryan Bernal worked his way up to third by the 12th circuit after making a quick rush from 12th to fifth in the opening handful of circuits.
When Davis, Jr., drove too hard into turn three on the 16th round, Bernal took quick advantage and moved into second. Bernal kept the pressure on Johnson the rest of the way, making one final bid off the final pair of corners only to come up short at the line.
“I wasn’t sure if we were gonna win one this year,” Johnson said after the triumph aboard the Ford-powered Kodiak Products No. 77m Sherman. “Last year we won the opener, so I’m glad we could close it out this year.”
Bernal settled for second in the Tri-L Mandarin Ranch No. 56 with Davis, Jr., crossing the stripe in third. Martin and Deskins rounded out the top five.
After the initial start of the feature was waved off, Jeremy Huish got into the turn three and four wall and flipped after Michael Bonneau spun on the low side.
Patrick Stasa was transported after taking a hard ride entering turn one on the third lap of the second heat.
In IMCA Modified action, former track champ Brendon Gemmill bounced back from an opening lap melee that included half the field to capture his first DCRP win of the year after finishing third in both of his previous starts.
After the wild turn four scramble negated the initial start, Jesse Smith gunned into the lead and set the early pace ahead of Tracy Link with William Nusser making his way up to third by the halfway point.
Meanwhile, Gemmill and current DCRP points leader Austin Allen were on the move from deep in the pack. Gemmill made his way past Nusser for third on the 12th round and then Link for second the next time around.
Gemmill moved in to challenge, but Smith fought him off for several laps before a lap 18 miscue in turns one and two opened the door for Gemmill. Gemmill took quick advantage, racing by and racing on to the checkered flag with Allen making his way into second on the white flag lap.
Gemmill and Allen were chased to the line by Nusser as Smith slipped to fourth, with Tanner Black rounding out the top five.
The 12-lap IMCA Stock Car main event came down to the wire with Marlin Hogie of Ulysses, KS, getting the nod for his first DCRP win since June of 2013 with the lead trio three-wide at the stripe.
Hogie raced into the lead from third on the opening lap and led a host of challengers until Ron Hartman edged ahead as the white flag flew. With Hartman picking up the left front tire through the final pair of corners, Hogie used the middle with Michael Pepper diving to the low side in a last ditch effort to drive by both.
Hogie held the slightest of leads at the line just ahead of Pepper with Hartman settling for third.
After swapping the lead with Reagan Sellard on lap seven, O’Hair chased until lapped traffic became a factor. Trying to dip under a lapped car, Sellard clipped an infield tire and spun, handing the lead off to O’Hair.
O’Hair went on to take the checkered flag just ahead of Will Bauer, who fell one spot short of nabbing a third consecutive win. Tom Reed was third with Tobby Schield and Bryan Habiger in the top five.
Next up at Dodge City Raceway Park is the Second Annual Sport Modified Mayhem event featuring a $1,000 winner’s share for the IMCA Sport Modifieds next Saturday night, August 29, with the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Stock Cars and IMCA Hobby Stocks in action as well.
Dodge City Raceway Park – August 22 Results:
Fourth Annual USAC Southwest Sprint Cars “Freedom Tour”:
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 21az-Stevie Sussex (2), 2. 7-Shannon McQueen (3), 3. 29-Michael Bonneau (1), 4. 13-Dennis Gile (4), 5. 17w-Harli White (5), 6. 22-Koby Barksdale (6), 7. 88j-Jeremy Huish (7).
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 16-Mike Martin (2), 2. 20-Shon Deskins (4), 3. 5-Tye Mihocko (1), 4. 78-Chris Bonneau (5), 5. E85-Ray Seemann (3), 6. 19-Patrick Stasa (6).
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 77m-R.J. Johnson (2), 2. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (3), 3. 74x-Josh Hodges (5), 4. 56-Ryan Bernal (4), 5. 15-Gavin Stout (1), 6. 24-Layne Himebaugh (6).
“A” Main (30 Laps): 1. 77m-R.J. Johnson (4), 2. 56-Ryan Bernal (12), 3. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (1), 4. 16-Mike Martin (5), 5. 20-Shon Deskins (3), 6. 74x-Josh Hodges (7), 7. 7-Shannon McQueen (2), 8. 78-Chris Bonneau (8), 9. 17w-Harli White (13), 10. 24-Layne Himebaugh (17), 11. E85-Ray Seemann (14), 12. 5-Tye Mihocko (10), 13. 15-Gavin Stout (15), 14. 22-Koby Barksdale (16), 15. 13-Dennis Gile (11), 16. 21az-Stevie Sussex (6), 17. 29-Michael Bonneau (9), 18. 88j-Jeremy Huish (18). DNS: 19-Patrick Stasa.
Lap Leaders: Charles Davis, Jr. 1-10, R.J. Johnson 11-30.
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 18-Austin Allen, 2. B21-Chadd Brown, 3. 3h-Ryan Heger, 4. 01-Jesse Smith, 5. 25b-Tom Beavers, 6. 57-Joel Lane, 7. 1n-Nick Link.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 7n-William Nusser, 2. 05-Rick Taylor, 3. 22k-Brad Keller, 4. 16-Kevin Gray, 5. 25-Kale Beavers, 6. G3-Brendon Gemmill, 7. 52-Clayton Hogie, 8. 23s-Heath Myers.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 2L-Tracy Link, 2. 7s-David Solberg, 3. M15-Mike Martin, 4. 44T-Tanner Black, 5. K98-Danny Keller, 6. 85c-Clay Sellard, 7. 88j-Jack Kirchoff.
“A” Main (20 Laps): 1. G3-Brendon Gemmill, 2. 18-Austin Allen, 3. 7n-William Nusser, 4. 01-Jesse Smith, 5. 44T-Tanner Black, 6. 2L-Tracy Link, 7. 16-Kevin Gray, 8. 1n-Nick Link, 9. 3h-Ryan Heger, 10. 7s-David Solberg, 11. B21-Chadd Brown, 12. 57-Joel Lane, 13. 88j-Jack Kirchoff, 14. 25b-Tom Beavers, 15. 05-Rick Taylor, 16. M15-Mike Martin, 17. 25-Kale Beavers, 18. 22k-Brad Keller, 19. 85c-Clay Sellard, 20. 23s-Heath Myers, 21. K98-Danny Keller. DNS: 52-Clayton Hogie.
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 10-Dusty Witthuhn, 2. 19-Brett Copeland, 3. D44-Randy Dowell, 4. 57b-Brady Bauer, 5. 21-Josh Siebert.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 33-Marlin Hogie, 2. 22w-Mike Warta, 3. 22-Michael Pepper, 4. 55h-Ron Hartman, 5. 101-Troy Smith, 6. 58-Kyle Tillery.
“A” Main (12 Laps): 1. 33-Marlin Hogie, 2. 22-Michael Pepper, 3. 55h-Ron Hartman, 4. 19-Brett Copeland, 5. 10-Dusty Witthuhn, 6. 22w-Mike Warta, 7. 21-Josh Siebert, 8. 101-Troy Smith, 9. 57b-Brady Bauer. DNS: d44-Randy Dowell.
IMCA Hobby Stocks:
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 2s-Reagan Sellard, 2. 91d-Cody Davis, 3. 72T-Tobby Schield, 4. 7-Tom Reed, 5. 55-Jacob Huse, 6. 87-Norman Carr, 7. 7h-Corey Hacker.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 2m-Matt O’Hair, 2. 007-Bryan Habiger, 3. 44b-David Berger, 4. 17-Will Bauer, 5. 51-Clint Long, 6. 8x-Colby Wetzel.
“A” Main (15 Laps): 1. 2m-Matt O’Hair, 2. 17-Will Bauer, 3. 7-Tom Reed, 4. 72T-Tobby Schield, 5. 007-Bryan Habiger, 6. 91d-Cody Davis, 7. 44b-David Berger, 8. 55-Jacob Huse, 9. 51-Clint Long, 10. 87-Norman Carr, 11. 2s-Reagan Sellard, 12. 7h-Corey Hacker, 13. 8x-Colby Wetzel.