PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Danny Johnson used a lap-98 restart to pass Matt Sheppard and win Tuesday night’s Plattsburgh 100 at Airborne Int’l Speedway.
Driving Ray Graham’s No. 21, Johnson charged to the bottom of the track and passed Sheppard, who had led the first 98 laps from the pole.
Max McLaughlin grabbed the final podium stop after battling in the top five all race. Erick Rudolph, who spent most of the night chasing Sheppard, seemed to lose some speed and fell back to the fourth position to end the night.
After a violent accident at Orange County Fair Speedway in his familiar No. 27J, Johnson found himself without a ride. First Tyler Siri stepped up and offered a ride, which Johnson used to stay in the points hunt. Now Johnson and car owner Ray Graham have come to terms for Johnson to race the Troyer chassis no. 21g for the remainder of the season.
After starting seventh, Johnson steadily moved his way up through the field until he reached the second-place Erick Rudolph.
Unfortunately for Rudolph, as his right rear appeared to be giving up the ghost, Johnson’s came alive in the closing stages of the 100-lap Battle of Plattsburgh. Johnson made his way around Rudolph with less than 10 laps to go.
Brett Hearn’s stricken No. 20 came to a stop trying to reach the pit area in turn one. As his racing machine was in a dangerous position, flagger Dave Farney was forced to wave the yellow flag.
“Well yeah the caution came out there and gave me a chance to come up on his [Sheppard’s] bumper,” Johnson said. “He chose the high lane. I went down to the bottom. The car stuck and the rest is history.”
It was Johnson’s second victory of the season.
“It’s great for my team. I appreciate Ray Graham and Peter Britten for allowing me to get into their team. This [ride] is supposed to be for the remainder of the season,” he said. “I gotta thank Billy Colton and Kevin Enders for helping us get the car ready last night. They were at the shop with the rest of the crew. It was a great effort.”
Sheppard set fast time, won his heat and finished second.
“Starting on the pole, sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad. I knew the top [line] would probably give up sooner or later,” Sheppard said. “I thought we were gonna make it to the finish but that caution at the end undid us.”
McLaughlin came into the race third in points, chasing Matt Sheppard and Erick Rudolph. McLaughlin was able to dispatch Rudolph in the late stages for third but failed to match the speed of the other two leaders.
“We struggled at the beginning of the race and I found that bottom groove early,” McLaughlin said. “I kinda stuck there all night. It was good on the tires so it allowed us to be there at the end. We had a really good car. The Teo Pro Car has really come on halfway through this year, this whole year pretty much. We’ve had a couple wins, and we’re knocking on the door of our first Series win. I like the bottom anywhere I go. Anywhere I can make the bottom work means a pretty good finish for us. I guess you can call me a bottom feeder.”
Danny Johnson, Matt Sheppard, Max McLaughlin, Erick Rudolph, Jimmy Phelps, Peter Britten, Carey Terrence, Steve Bernier, Jack Lehner, Rich Scagliotta, Dany Gagne, Louie Jackson, Demetrois Drellos, Adam Roberts, Brett Hearn, Greg Atkins, Dave Rauscher, Jackie Brown, Tim Fuller, Jeesey Mueller, Matt Woodruff, Marc Johnson, Yan Bussiere, Mikael Labreche, Stewart Friesen.