FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PLEASE – THANK YOU
THE DOCTOR OUTDUELS FRIESEN FOR 60TH ANNIVERSARY FIVE MILE LAURELS
BY JR KENNERUP
Both drivers took their fair share of leading the race by using some hair raising slide job passes at each end of the speedway. In the end Johnson used tire management to get the lead for good on lap 49 of the 60 lap feature and went on to win the $6,000 posted first place prize money. That amount was boosted by an additional $500 as Johnson was using a small block power plant in the Mike Payne owned car to make the winning amount $6,500.
Friesen settled for second with Duane Howard holding off a fast closing Ronnie Johnson for third with defending and three time RoC consecutive champion Pat Ward ending up in fifth.
By luck of the draw Danny Johnson and Duane Howard brought the talented 28 car field to green. Johnson out dragged Howard into turn one to grab the lead over Howard and Brian Weaver. Despite some very exciting racing up front at the start of the feature all eyes were focused back on the driver who started tenth.
Stewart Friesen was that driver and he has been on a tear at Five Mile Point this year as he won seven of nine features going into the program. Friesen didn’t disappoint one bit as he immediately moved from tenth to sixth in just one lap.
After an early race yellow the race stayed green for the next 15 laps and during this time Johnson opened up his lead over Howard. Friesen meanwhile continued his charge to the front by using every available inch of the wide Five Mile Point track surface.
Friesen used his patented fake high dive low in turn four move on Howard to move into second on lap 26 and with Johnson a full straightaway ahead the question would be how long it would take Friesen to battle Johnson for the lead.
The answer to the question was five laps as Friesen reeled in Johnson with ease and then brought the standing room only crowd to their feet exiting turn four to complete lap 32. Friesen who was running the cushion passed Johnson exiting turn two but going into turns three and four Johnson perfected a slide job pass to get the lead. But when Johnson slipped over the birm Friesen ducked underneath to take the lead to complete lap 32.
Many Five Mile Point weekly attendees have seen this scenario play out seven times before this year when Friesen gets the lead, no one passes him back. But many people forget Danny Johnson is not your ordinary race car driver who settles for second when he gets passed for the lead.
Johnson who dropped back several car lengths after losing the lead now regrouped and closed back in on Friesen to do battle for the lead once again. As the leading duo battled for the lead in heavy lap traffic Friesen switched from his normal high groove to the bottom groove. Johnson took advantage of the switch in racing grooves to reel Friesen in and set up the winning pass.
Exiting turn two on lap 48 Johnson rode the cushion to grab the lead for good. Friesen moved back to the top groove and started to chase Johnson down once again for the lead. This time Johnson stayed pat in the top groove and Friesen didn’t have enough to get back by.
Johnson who was just named as one of the 60 greatest drivers in the history of Five Mile Point the week prior held off Friesen by one car length for his second consecutive win in this event. Howard who didn’t run as low as third for the entire race held off a fast closing Ronnie Johnson. Pat Ward ended up fifth after a race long battle with team mate Billy Decker.
The excited winner had this to say after the win. “ First off I have to thank Mike Payne and his team for giving me a fast hot rod here tonight. It is a real pleasure to show up at the track and the car is fast right out of the trailer. “
Danny had this to say about getting passed for the lead on lap 31. “ During the yellow before that Mike ( Payne ) told me via hand signals that I should run the bottom as that was where Stewart was running. Then when he passed me on the outside I said to myself that I wasn’t listening to him again ( with a smile and a chuckle ).
“ My car was really good up top and when Friesen decided to run the bottom I knew that I had a good shot to get back by him and when I did I wasn’t going to give the top back up “ said Danny.
Friesen meanwhile knew he made one single mistake during the entire race and that mistake cost him the win. “ I should have never decided to run the bottom as that ate my right rear tire up and that was all Danny needed to pass me back. Look at Danny’s right rear it was hardly worn and you look at my right rear and it is almost burned off. “
Howard in his first Five Mile Point appearance in quite a few years was happy with a third. “ I didn’t have enough for the first two but it fun watching them go at for the win. I had fun racing here tonight as there was plenty of room to race. “
Qualifying races for the talented 39 car field saw heat wins go to Matt Sheppard, Johnson, Ronnie Johnson, Friesen, and Howard while Alan Rudalavage and Rick Laubach claimed the consolation wins.
COUNTER POINTS; the hottest day of the racing season greeted a packed house of race fans. The excessive heat caused Jeff Strunk to miss the show as his tow rig blew two tires and overheated while in Hazelton, Pa. Billy Van Pelt was the last car to arrive due to two blown tires on his tow rig in Sayre, Pa. Matt Sheppard was a lap from winning his heat until the right rear tire blew, Sheppard held on to second for the time being. In post heat race tech Brett Hearn who inherited the lead when Sheppard blew a tire was disqualified for the wrong compound tire on the left rear. Danny Tyler impressively came from 26th to 13th in the feature with no brakes the last 40 laps of the feature. Rick Laubach and Mike Ricci were both one of the fastest cars during the feature until engine woes sent both to the pit area. All racing teams were pitted on the back stretch with many teams taking advantage of the grassy areas and large shade trees. Eric Palmer and Brad Alger both refused provisional starting spots.
The Race of Champions Dart Dirt Modified Tour is proudly sponsored by; American Racer East Coast Modified Cup, Dart Machinery, American Racer Tires, Sunoco Race Fuels, Total Seal Piston Rings, CV Products, LA Sleeve, Dura – Bond, Melling Performance, PBM Performance Products, Dynatech, Xceldyne Technologies, Erson Cams, Afco, and Competition Engineering by Moroso.
RACE REPORT RACE OF CHAMPIONS DART DIRT MODIFIED TOUR RACE # 5 60TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL
FINISH; Danny Johnson, Stewart Friesen, Duane Howard, Ronnie Johnson, Pat Ward, Billy Decker, Willy Decker, Bobby Varin, Matt Sheppard, Billy Van Pelt, Jim Gabriel, Jr., Brian Weaver, Danny Tyler, Mike Colsten, Danny Creeden, Frank Yankowski, Ken Titus, Brett Hearn, Kevin Bates, Nick Rochinski, Brent Wilcox, Gary Tomkins, Bobby Trapper, Rick Laubach, Alan Rudalavage, Brian Puckett, Mike Ricci, Kirk Horton.
DNQ’S; Eric Palmer, Brad Alger, John Marsh, Bryan Terwilliger, Joey Colsten, Mike Decker, Shaun Walker, Dave Hinsch, Brian Malcolm, Dave Calaman, and Glenn Knapp.
LAP LEADERS; D. Johnson ( 1 – 31 ), Friesen ( 32 – 48 ), D. Johnson ( 49 – 60 ).
DART MACHINERY SMALL BLOCK BONUS $500; D. Johnson.
NEXT RoC EVENT; Wednesday July 14th – Thunder on the Hill Series – Grandview Speedway – Bechtelsville, Pa. – 60 laps - $5,000 to win