CORNWALL, Ontario — A pair of Dannys thrilled a big crowd Sunday night at Cornwall Motor Speedway with a late-race duel that saw Danny Johnson pick up his first Big-Block Modified Super DIRTcar Series victory of 2011 over a hard-charging Danny O’Brien.
Jimmy Phelps and Super DIRTcar Series point-leader Billy Decker paced the field of 30 Big-Block Modifieds to the green at Cornwall Motor Speedway with Phelps jumping out into the early lead. Matt Sheppard made quick work of Decker and quickly moved into the second spot.
The caution flag quickly flew for Gage Morin who spun in turn three. On the ensuing restart, Sheppard used the outside line to move around Jimmy Phelps and take the lead on lap eight.
As Sheppard began to open up his lead, Cornwall Motor Speedway track regular, O’Brien was using the outside line to move up through the field, passing his brother Pat O’Brien for fourth place by lap 16.
The quarter-mile layout of the Cornwall Motor Speedway meant lapped traffic played a major role in the feature event. By lap 20 the race leaders found themselves in heavy lapped traffic, Sheppard and Jimmy Phelps thrilled the crowd as they battled for the lead while slicing through traffic at a torrid pace.
A lap-30 caution for Steve Bernard would give the leaders clear race track. The ensuing restart would see a five car break-away at the front of the field. Sheppard, Phelps, Danny O’Brien, Decker and Johnson battled at the front of the field.
All five leaders round around the top of high-banked Cornwall Motor Speedway until lap 64 when Johnson jumped to the inside in search of bite. It didn’t take him long to find some as he moved into fourth on lap-67, then passed Danny O’Brien for third on lap 66.
Phelps and Johnson, locked in a battle for second place, split the lapped car of Bruno Lepage. Contact between Johnson and Lepage send the Lepage machine up the racetrack into the side of the Phelps machine, everyone regrouped but the contact allowed Johnson to move into second place.
Johnson then used the inside to take the lead on lap-71 from Sheppard. Johnson’s charge on the inside lane forced most of the leaders to run the bottom in hopes of experiencing the success Johnson was having running the inside, which opened the door for O’Brien.
O’Brien kept his Kendrick Racing 17D 358-modified wound up along the outside, and moved around Matt Sheppard and into the runner up position. O’Brien then focused on running down leader Johnson.
As the laps wound down, O’Brien began cutting down the lead Johnson had bestowed upon the field. With just three laps to go O’Brien was able to catch that back of the Mike Payne-owned 27J of Johnson as the leaders were attempting to negotiate lapped traffic.
O’Brien keeping the momentum running around the outside was able to get alongside the Johnson car, but wasn’t able to complete the pass, as Johnson picked up the thrilling win by a margin of 0.102 seconds over O’Brien.
“Everyone was running the top so I went down to the bottom to try to find some bite,” Johnson said. “The car worked really well down there for us.”
Sheppard held on for third while Decker and Jimmy Phelps rounded out the top five.
Danny Johnson, Danny O’Brien, Matt Sheppard, Billy Decker, Jimmy Phelps, Gary Tomkins, Carey Terrance, Yan Bussiere, Justin Haers, Rob Bellinger, Brett Hearn, Joel Doiron, Luke Whitteker, Stephane Lafrance,Laurent Ladouceur, Tommy Sears, Jeff Sykes, Rich Scagliotta, Pat O’Brien, Lance Willix, Steve Bernard, Pierre DaGenais, Michele Chicoine, Gage Morin, Peter Britten, Bruno Lepage, Tim Currier, Larry Wight, Kyle Dingwall, Brian McDonald.