WEEDSPORT, N.Y. — Weedsport Speedway hosted the Super DIRT Week kickoff party Wednesday and it was Danny Johnson who crashed Brett Hearn’s party during the 75-lap small-block modified feature.
Hearn dominated the DIRTcar 358 Modified event that served as the first racing action of the 44th annual Super DIRT Week, leading nearly 50 laps until Johnson caught him in the closing laps and pulled away for the victory.
“Obviously, it’s awesome,” Johnson said of his No. 27 machine on top of Weedsport’s victory hill. “This car’s been very good to me for three years. I just love this car, and it showed tonight.”
After Gary Lindberg started on the pole and Billy Decker lead the early laps, Hearn and Johnson staged a dogfight throughout the rest of the race when Hearn drove under Decker in turn two to take the lead just after completing the eighth lap.
Johnson slipped by Decker to take second a lap later and immediately set his sights on the leader, using a couple of cautions on laps 12 and 13 to catch up to Hearn. Johnson trailed Hearn as the leaders navigated lapped traffic until another caution came out on lap 26.
That is when Johnson began to really challenge Hearn for the top spot, and he got a look under the leader on lap 28 and appeared to move into the lead on lap 30 right when a caution came out again and reset the field with Hearn out in front.
When the green flag waved, Johnson found himself trailing Hearn through traffic again. He got another look under the leader on lap 47 and drove side-by-side with the No. 20 car, but he couldn’t make it work that time around.
Johnson drove under Hearn on lap 57, and this time he came out with a lead that he never relinquished. Johnson built his advantage over the remaining laps and took the checkered flag 3.524 seconds ahead of Hearn.
Pat Ward finished third, and Decker – the only other driver to lead laps in the race – finished fourth and Erick Rudolph finished fifth.
“I caught him in traffic a little bit, and it stuck,” Johnson said of the final move around Hearn for the lead and the win. “I was able to get underneath him in turn 2 and stayed there from there.”