Lonnie Wheatley, COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. (July 22, 2011) – A few mere inches is all that separated Jason Johnson from Roger Crockett as the checkered flag flew upon Friday night’s 30-lap Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters preliminary feature event at the Cottage Grove Sprint Car Nationals.
After battling past Johnny Herrera at the midway point atop the ¼-mile Cottage Grove Speedway clay oval, the defending series champion denied a last-corner bid from the past ASCS Northwest champion to notch his third ASCS National win of the year aboard the Don Ott-powered Haynes/Mesilla Valley Transport No. 41 Maxim.
And, Johnson crossed the stripe just 0.027-seconds ahead of Crockett in the photo finish atop the racy oval, with Wayne Johnson and Herrera also locking into Saturday’s Cottage Grove Sprint Car Nationals championship event by virtue of finishing third and fourth, respectively.
“That was close, real close!” Johnson exclaimed after his 51st career ASCS National triumph and 96th overall ASCS victory. “I could smell him, it was too close for comfort, there’s a reason he’s the best in the northwest.”
Crockett, just inches away from a third career National win, explained that, “We needed another foot on the straightaway, I think we had him a foot after the flagstand.” Crockett summarized the hard-fought affair with the comment that, “This stuff is so much better than Outlaw racing, I wish folks would realize that.”
While Louisiana’s Johnson started directly in front of Crockett inside the third row, California’s Jonathan Allard led the way to the green flag with ASCS Northwest rookie contender Jake Waddell alongside.
Allard, aboard the Fauver No. 64 for the weekend, gunned into the early lead with second-row outside starter Herrera immediately moving in to challenge.
With Herrera edging into the lead on the second lap, Johnson quickly moved up to third with fellow third-row starter Tim Crawley right on his tailtank when the first caution flew after six laps when Seth Bergman came to a stop.
After a Kyle Larson spin on the restart, Allard pulled his mount pitside soon after leaving Herrera and Johnson to dice for the point as Crawley and Crockett battled for third until Crawley slid to a stop off the top of turn one with race-ending front-end damage after 13 laps.
Following a final caution after 17 circuits for Aaron Reutzel, Crockett battled past Herrera for second on the 22nd lap and tried to reel in Johnson. As Johnson reached traffic in the final circuits, Crockett closed quickly in the Omlid & Swinney No. 11 KPC and fell just short of stealing the win at the stripe.
Wayne Johnson, a Northwest Speedweek winner at Cottage Grove just nine nights earlier in Bryan Sundby’s Parker-powered No. 38 Maxim, worked forward from ninth and took third away from Herrera on the 22nd lap as well to claim the show position.
On the move at the midway point, Wayne Johnson explained that, “I think I had those boys before that last caution, I found the bottom before they did.”
Herrera settled for fourth aboard the Wesmar-powered Herrera/Main Champion Oil No. 45x Maxim after leading the early rounds, explaining that, “We just got too tight as the race went on, at least we’re locked in for tomorrow night though.”
Current Lucas Oil Sprint Car points leader Shane Stewart rounded out the top five in Paul Silva’s Wesmar-powered Rockstar Energy Drink No. 57 A.R.T., with Tim Kaeding climbing from 16th to sixth.
Brady Bacon raced from 20th to seventh, while Jeff Swindell recovered from a cone violation on a lap seven restart to claim eighth. Larson, fresh off the ASCS Northwest Speedweek championship, bounced back from his early spin to finish ninth, with Gary Wright completing the top ten.
Herrera, Crawley, Waddell and Rob Held topped heat race action for the 35-car field, with Reutzel winning the 15-lap “B” Main.
(Stacy Verrall photos)
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters
Cottage Grove Sprint Car Nationals Preliminary
Cottage Grove Speedway – Cottage Grove, OR
Heat Races (Top 16 in Passing Points to "A" Main; Balance to “B" Main):
Heat One (10 Laps): 1. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 2. 64-Jonathan Allard, 3. 41-Jason Johnson, 4. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 5. 22-Garen Linder, 6. 7n-Jayme Barnes, 7. 55-Trey Starks, 8. 5h-Mason Moore, 9. 13-Chadd Noland.
Heat Two (10 Laps): 1. 88-Tim Crawley, 2. 57-Shane Stewart, 3. 9-Gary Wright, 4. 38-Wayne Johnson, 5. 26f-Shane Forte, 6. 77-Kyle Larson, 7. 99-Brady Bacon, 8. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr. DNS: 45-Brent McGrath.
Heat Three (10 Laps): 1. 10j-Jake Waddell, 2. 11-Roger Crockett, 3. 41x-Dale Smith, 4. 98m-Mitch Olson, 5. 23-Seth Bergman, 6. 23b-Colin Baker, 7. 18T-Travis Jacobson, 8. 8rc-Jason Cocking, 9. 0-Zach Chappell.
Heat Four (10 Laps): 1. 68-Rob Held, 2. 28-Jeff Swindell, 3. 33-Nate Morelock, 4. 83-Tim Kaeding, 5. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 6. 88x-Brent Hoover, 7. 24-Tyler Anderson. DNS: 2L-Logan Forler.
"B" Main (Top 6 Advance to "A" Main):
"B" Feature (15 Laps): 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 2. 77-Kyle Larson, 3. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 4. 99-Brady Bacon, 5. 55-Trey Starks, 6. 22-Garen Linder, 7. 7n-Jayme Barnes, 8. 2L-Logan Forler, 9. 5h-Mason Moore, 10. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 11. 88x-Brent Hoover, 12. 24-Tyler Anderson, 13. 8rc-Jason Cocking, 14. 18T-Travis Jacobson, 15. 13-Chadd Noland, 16. 23b-Colin Baker, 17. 26f-Shane Forte. DNS: 0-Zach Chappell, 45-Brent McGrath.
Cottage Grove Sprint Car Nationals Preliminary “A” Main:
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 41-Jason Johnson, 2. 11-Roger Crockett, 3. 38-Wayne Johnson, 4. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 5. 57-Shane Stewart, 6. 83-Tim Kaeding, 7. 99-Brady Bacon, 8. 28-Jeff Swindell, 9. 77-Kyle Larson, 10. 9-Gary Wright, 11. 41x-Dale Smith, 12. 22-Garen Linder, 13. 2L-Logan Forler, 14. 68-Rob Held, 15. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 16. 98m-Mitch Olson, 17. 55-Trey Starks, 18. 33-Nate Morelock, 19. 10j-Jake Waddell, 20. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 21. 88-Tim Crawley, 22. 64-Jonathan Allard, 23. 23-Seth Bergman.
Lap Leaders: Jonathan Allard 1, Johnny Herrera 2-14, Jason Johnson 15-30.
Note: Logan Forler utilized his mid-season bonus full-point provisional to start the main event. Tony Bruce, Jr., and Zach Chappell both declined provisionals.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Driver Points (Top 15): 1. Shane Stewart 1,425, 2. Johnny Herrera 1,344, 3. Jeff Swindell 1,263, 4. Gary Wright 1,226, 5. Tim Crawley 1,219, 6. Brady Bacon 1,204, 7. Seth Bergman 1,153, 8. Aaron Reutzel 1,102, 9. Tony Bruce, Jr. 1,082, 10. Logan Forler 991, 11. Zach Chappell 976, 12. Jason Johnson 904, 13. Dustin Morgan 877, 14. Danny Wood 674, 15. Wayne Johnson 654.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Owner Points (Top 15): 1. Jason Johnson Racing #41 – 1,456, 2. Paul Silva #57 – 1,425, 3. Herrera/Main #45x – 1,344, 4. Swindell Group #28 – 1,263, 5. Mike Ward #88 – 1,219, 6. Bacon/Tel-Star #99 – 1,204, 7. Petersen Motorsports #23 1,153, 8. Kenny Reutzel #87 – 1,102, 9. Bruce Racing #18 – 1,082, 10. Steve Forler #2L – 991, 11. Randy Washburn #0 – 976, 12. M&M Motorsports #2 – 877, 13. Cooper/Sperry #01/51 - 872, 14. Danny Wood #81 – 674, 15. Bryan Sundby #38 - 654.
ASCS Northwest Points (Top Ten): 1. Roger Crockett 1,244, 2. Henry Van Dam 1,150, 3. Seth Bergman 1,123, 4. Trey Starks 1,067, 5. Mitch Olson 983, 6. Jason Cocking 793, 7. Jason Solwold 787, 8. Chadd Noland 778, 9. Mason Moore 733, 10. Kyle Larson 718.