BREWERTON, N.Y. — Danny Johnson had a simple description for the performance of the car he steered to a convincing victory in Thursday night’s SUNY-Canton Hurricane 100 DIRTcar 358-Modified Series event at Brewerton Speedway.
“On rails,” the 55-year-old Johnson said when asked about his Bicknell machine owned by Chris Gennarelli. “It just felt like it was on rails.”
Johnson was effectively in a league of his own as he rolled to a $5,000 triumph that marked his second DIRTcar 358-Modified Series score in as many NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week nights. He charged forward from the ninth starting spot to pass race-long pacesetter Larry Wight for the lead on lap 21 and wasn’t challenged thereafter.
Four of the race’s six caution flags flew after Johnson assumed command, but none of the slowdowns hampered the veteran superstar. He pulled away easily on each restart and built nearly a full straightaway at some points, though his final victory margin was a more modest 1.904 seconds over Billy Decker.
Matt Sheppard advanced from the 12th starting spot to finish third. Eighth-starter Mike Mahaney was hot on Sheppard’s heels in fourth at the checkered flag and Pat Ward steadily cut through the field from the 19th starting spot to place fifth.
“This car is just phenomenal every time out,” said Johnson, who registered a $4,000 victory on Wednesday night at Weedsport (N.Y.) Speedway. “This car is three years old and it’s got a lot of three-year-old parts in it, and you wouldn’t believe it.
“It’s that good, it really is. I can’t believe it. I don’t know what it is – I can’t my other cars to go this good, but this one here is just superb. I love it.”
Decker, 54, certainly had no answer for Johnson’s speed. The reigning Big-Block Modified Super DIRTcar Series champion started third in his second start in as many nights behind the wheel of Scott Kerwin’s 358-Modified, but he was overtaken for fourth by Johnson on lap 10 and never was able to offer a serious challenge to the eventual winner after inheriting second place on lap 55 when Brett Hearn slowed with a broken steering arm.
“All in all, it was a good run,” Decker said after his runner-up finish. “Danny was really good tonight. It almost made me throw up when he drove by us all. It looked like he could just drive around. I think he was talking on his cell phone when he went by.”
The 33-year-old Sheppard, meanwhile, had to be satisfied with placing a distant third, nearly four seconds behind Johnson at the finish.
“We didn’t start terribly deep, but we started deep enough,” said Sheppard, who made a rare 358-Modified start in an Al Heinkie-owned machine. “We just had to inch and claw for every position all the way up through the race. I don’t think we got by anybody easy. We worked our way towards the front but we just weren’t good enough to get all the way there.”
The race’s only other leader was the 22-year-old Wight, who paced the first 20 circuits after starting from the outside pole. He relinquished second place during a lap-37 caution flag to pit for a left-rear tire change and never was a factor again, eventually finishing 19th after making another pit stop on lap 55 and then retiring after completing 89 laps.
Forty-five DIRTcar 358-Modifieds entered the event.
Rocky Warner passed Brad Rouse for the lead on a lap-27 restart and held on to capture the 30-lap DIRTcar Sportsman Series feature.
A Pro Stock star-turned-Sportsman standout, Warner grabbed the $1,000 top prize with an inside move underneath Rouse through turns one and two. He had to survive another restart before beating Rouse to the finish line by 1.036 seconds.
Danny Johnson, Billy Decker, Matt Sheppard, Mike Mahaney, Pat Ward, Jimmy Phelps, Ryan Arbuthnot, Chris Raabe, David Herbert, Steve Bernard, Ryan Susice, Matt DeLorenzo, Danny Creeden, Tommy Flannigan, Shawn Walker, Alan Therrien, Roy Bresnahan, Yan Bussiere, Larry Wight, Ryan Godown, Mario Clair, Boyd MacTavish, Danny O’Brien, Gary Lindberg, Erick Rudolph, Brett Hearn, Gage Morin, Scott Wood, Jordan McCreadie, Randy Chrysler.