BROCKVILLE, Ontario — “The Doctor” Danny Johnson cruised to the front during Saturday’s DIRTcar 358-Modified Series finale at Brockville Ontario Speedway, avoiding several pile-ups and outlasting competition through a challenging 100 laps on his way to his third series win of the season.
“I;m very fortunate to have a great hotrod here at the end of the season,” said Johnson. “It’s a phenomenal hotrod, that’s all I can tell you. It’s the same car that we ran here last year and won with, so it’s a proven piece for us.”
Johnson beat off Brett Hearn to take third at the green flag at Saturday’s afternoon 1000 Islands RV Fall Nationals race, but Hearn fought back after a pile-up in lap three involving Dexter Stacey, Michel Chicoine and Danny O’Brien brought the yellow. On the restart, Hearn powered ahead to second with Johnson still in third. Stephane LeFrance in the 115 car continued the lead he gained at the start.
By lap 15, LeFrance, Johnson and Hearn were battling through lapped traffic with Johnson finally taking the outside in lap 21 to pass Hearn. Johnson kept his momentum through a lap-22 caution and the ensuing restart to take the lead in lap 27.
Johnson kept his lead, LeFrance in hot pursuit until a blown tire took him out in lap 80, leaving Billy Dunn to fight for the lead. Dunn, the 358-Modified track champion at Mohawk International Raceway, kept the nose of his 23d to the back bumper of Johnson’s 27J through every turn, but was unable to pass before the checkered flag. Dunn finished second, followed by Joel Doiron in third, and Kyle Dingwall in fourth.
Series point leader Dale Planck finished fifth after noticing challenging track conditions and pitting for a tire change in lap 31. Upon returning to the field, he gradually worked his way up, helped by some strong restarts as well as a couple of blown tires in lap 89 that took Hearn, then in fourth, and Mario Clair, then in fifth, to the pits.
As tire wear became an issue for many competitors, Planck’s decision to pit early may have helped him outlast others and greet the checkered flag with a strong finish. However, with a series lead of 100-plus points over runner-up Mat Williamson going into the race, even a blown tire would not cost Planck the championship title.
“The pressure was off after time trials,” said Planck, who has earned six top-five finishes throughout the season. “The rest of the time it was go and have fun.”
Danny Johnson, Billy Dunn, Joel Doiron, Kyle Dingwall, Dale Planck, Pat O’Brien, Tim O’Brien, Mat Williamson, Brian McDonald, Carey Terrance, Jeff Sykes, Dany Bilodeau, Mario Clair, Yan Bussiere, Randy Chrysler, Chris Steele, Stephane LaFrance, Brett Hearn, Pierre Dagenais, Joseph Banks, Steve Bernard, Bruno LePage, Stewart Friesen, Lee Gill, Matt Billings, Adam Moore, Dexter Stacey, Michel Chicoine, Alain Boisvert, Danny O’Brien.