Johnson’s second title satisfying
With Bobby Varin starting five spots in front of him and Jeremy Wilder one row back with the Fonda Speedway track championship on the line, Ronnie Johnson made a quick decision.
On the opening lap, Johnson saw an opening and quickly moved from eighth to second and about a quarter mile later was in the lead.
Then came possibly the longest 48 laps of his modified career.
“In dirt racing every time you think you have a plan, things just twist and turn,” Johnson said. “Some opportunities happened, holes opened up and we had a car good enough to be able to fill those holes. We got [the lead] quick. I knew when we got the lead on the second lap it was going to be a long 48 laps with Bobby Varin, Jeremy Wilder and Danny Johnson all right there. Bobby is tough at Fonda. If he got out front it may have been a different story. When the opportunity was in front of me, I couldn’t hesitate.”
It seemed like every time RJ found a rhythm or built a substantial lead, the caution came out.
“I don’t know if the cautions were hurting or helping. I never saw a racecar the whole race. I didn’t see anybody poking around me,” Johnson said. “I was told Bobby got under me a bit in turn four once but I never saw him. I ran the top for a little while down in one and two but then I got hooked up on the bottom. I never saw a car but I knew they were there. I committed myself to the bottom and lived or died down there.”
At one point midway through the 50-lap feature Johnson, Varin and Wilder, who were separated by four points for the top spot in the standings heading into the race, were running 1-2-3 less than 10 car lengths apart.
Wilder fell back and then went pitside to change a flat tire, while Varin made a run at Johnson n the final 10 laps only to have a right front tire go down, ending his quest for a seventh track championship.
For RJ, his second track championship along with five wins on the season, has boosted his moral.
“It was really satisfying especially after the past couple of years that we had were really frustrating,” he said. “To rebound back like we did this year is great. The opportunity that Jake and Nancy Spraker gave me was tremendous. I am really happy with and proud of our race team. It is real satisfying.”
With Fonda Speedway on break for the annual Fonda Fair, Johnson said his is going to take a couple nights off.
“I think we are going to take some time off and get our act together,” he said. “We have to finish out Albany-Saratoga and get ready for the end of the year races at Fonda and maybe do the Outlaw race at Fulton.”
One race that is in the future is the NAPA 300 during Super DIRT Week at Oswego Speedway in October.
“Actually I met with Jake a couple of times after Saturday’s race and we made the decision that we are going to run Oswego,” Johnson said. “Jake just ordered a new racecar for me to go there with. Jake does everything first class and he wants it to be 100 percent brand new. I don’t remember going to Super DIRT Week with a car that was 100 percent brand new like we will this year.”
For Spraker, Johnson’s victory and track championship gave him a sweep of the modified and 602 sportsman track championships as Rocky Warner locked up his second-straight sportsman title in a Spraker-owned car.
The feat has only been done once before by a car owner at Fonda. Tommy Spencer was the car owner for Mike Romano and Tim Clemons when they won the titles in 1990. He was also one of the primary sponsors on Ricky Achzet’s championship street stock (now pro stock division) that season.
Friday night Tony Farone was first under the checkers at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park to claim the lion’s share of the prize and contingency money for winning the 50-lap Don Warner Tribute race.
However, his celebration was cut short as the money was put up and a protest was filed against his motor, meaning it would have to be pulled from the car, impounded and then sent out to be checked by a local engine builder.
Farone opted to not have his engine pulled and forfeited the win and close to $2,000 in prize money, giving the victory to rocky Warner.
Saturday night the same thing happened as John McAuliffe won the 602 spotsman feature. Again a protest was filed and the money put up to have McAuliffe’s engine pulled to be checked.
McAuliffe also opted not to pull his engine and have it checked out, leading to a disqualification and giving the victory to second-place finisher Brian Calabrese.