On May 10, Ronnie Johnson did something he had not done before in his racing career - flipped a race car.
The modified driver out of Duanesburg barrel-rolled his car at Albany-Saratoga Speedway on that night, totalling the car.
"I don't know [what happened]," Johnson said. "I got together with someone, got turned the wrong way, did a few barrel rolls, some twists and turns and it happened so fast I really don't know what happened. Some of the cosmetic stuff got bent up, but the cage and all the safety aspects of that car were rock solid. My hats off to Teo."
Johnson had a new Teo chassis in the shop waiting to be finished, but finding the time to work on the new car was a problem - until last week.
"We got the car just as the season began," he said. "With racing three nights a week now, there really isn't much time to work on a new car unless you shut down like we did and just focus on that car. With the racecars that Bobby and Matt Hearn build, they are pretty awesome. If you look around, they win a lot of races. We were pretty confident that they gave us the right stuff so we could put it together and be right where we were with the old car. It proved it Friday night."
Johnson completed the wreckers-to-checkers saga by holding off Stewart Friesen for his first Albany-Saratoga win of the season.
"It was an exciting night for us [Palmer's Service sponsored team]," he said. "We worked hard to get this car done. We had a lot of help and put a lot of hours in. We actually went to work on it [the new car] on Saturday morning."
Fonda Speedway rained out on May 11, giving Johnson, who was sore but not injured in the wreck, a chance to heal a bit.
"We were ready with our big block car to go there, so it really didn't affect us in any way," he said. "Believe it or not, we were ready by Thursday with this car. The rainout didn't really become a factor."
Although pleased with the victory, Johnson joked the way the win came is not a trend he wants to continue.
"Actually, that was the first time I ever flipped," he said. "I turned over once, but I don't really consider that flipping, so that was really my first time ever flipping. I hope it is not the start of something. In that aspect, for as long as I have been racing, I have been really fortunate."
Johnson now has two wins on the season, one each at Albany-Saratoga and Utica-Rome Speedway. However, although having multiple podium finishes at Fonda Speedway, he has been shut out of Victory Lane.
"Last night [Saturday] we finished sixth, but it felt like I had a faster car than sixth," he said. "It just seems like I can't pick the right lane or get shuffled back and I need Stewart Friesen to maybe go back and race someplace else. That kid is awesome. He is lighting up the dirt circuit around here. He is really good and is fun to watch and fun to race with. It is just tough to beat him."
Johnson then paid Friesen one of the biggest compliments anyone can pay another dirt track racer.
"Honestly, I haven't seen anybody at Fonda like him since I was a little kid when I was watching my father [Jumpin' Jack Johnson] dominate at Fonda," he said. "He [Friesen] is incredible there. I race with him and I can credit his driving and his ability to put that car in places where nobody else is. He is a real talent."
Rocky "The Flying Squirrel" Warner may be looking for a ride in a 4-cylinder cruiser division car at Glen Ridge.
The Gloversville driver picked up the victory last Friday night in the modified feature event at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, leaving the cruisers as the only division that regularly runs at the quarter mile speedway he has not had a feature win in.
Weekend racing action
Fonda Speedway will host the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint series Saturday night for the annual $2,000-to-win Earl Halaquist Memorial race.
Glen Ridge Motorsports Park will host a regular show of modifieds, sportsman, street stocks, lightning cruisers, rookie sportsman along with the vintage class. Also, all veterans or active duty with ID or DD 214 will receive free admission to grandstand. Members of the military will be honored during intermission.
Utica-Rome Speedway will host a two-day event.
Sunday, the Lucas Oil ESS sprints will join the regular race program along with fireworks.
The modified feature winner Sunday also will receive a guaranteed starting spot in Monday's $10,000-to-win, 100 lap Race of Champions Modified Series Victoria 200.
The 602 crate sportsman division will join the program for a $1,000-to-win main event.