COLUMBUS, Miss. – Ronnie Johnson came from the 15th starting spot to win the 50-lap fourth round of the Salute To America Nationals for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series on Sunday night at Magnolia Motor Speedway.
The victory was the second in as many nights for Johnson and his fifth of the season driving the NeSmith Chevrolet Special.
The defending NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Champion methodically worked his way to the front of the pack and took the lead from Evan Ellis on lap 41. Johnson then pulled away, forced his way through heavy lapped traffic, and then survived a late caution flag to take just over a one second margin of victory under the checkered flag.
“I love coming to Magnolia Motor Speedway, but for some reason, I just have never qualified well here,” Johnson said. “We qualified 21st tonight, gained a couple of spots in the B-Main to start 15th, and then the track came to me in the main event. The Black Ice came in, and that just fits my driving style, and we had the right tire combination to get to the front.”
Johnson’s four-race Salute To America Nationals journey started off a series of setbacks in the first two races. He arrived at Talladega (Ala.) Short Track on Thursday night just in time to qualify, but his tenth fastest time was disallowed because he failed to go through pre-race tech. As the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series point leader Johnson took a provisional, started 23rd and finished ninth.
On Friday night at East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City, Ala., Johnson broke an axle tube in hot laps, unloaded his backup car, won his B-Main, started 11th and finished tenth. Johnson and his crew of volunteers who came along for the four-day tour repaired his primary race car for Saturday night’s race at Arkadelphia Speedway in Bremen, Ala.
The National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Inductee was back in his winning form on Saturday night, as he qualified second quick, and led all 40 laps at Arkadelphia Speedway for the victory. Then with the win after a bad qualifying run at The Mag on Sunday night, Johnson put the exclamation point on how one can overcome adversity to become a champion.
After leading the first 40 laps of the race on Sunday night, Ellis finished second in the Ellis Welding Special. The 2008 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Champion Chip Brindle took the third spot with. Montana Dudley fourth and Tyler Burgess fifth.
Ronnie Johnson, Evan Ellis, Chip Brindle, Montana Dudley, Tyler Burgess, Grant Pearl, Marcus Minga, Brent Barrett, Chad McCool, Chris Mullinax, Shep Lucas, Nick Thrash, Shay Knight, Cruz Skinner, Kyle Shaw, Chris Noah, Randall Beckwith, Johnny Stokes, Ashley Newman, Jamey Boland, Ryan Oswalt, Mark McCarter, Neil Baggett, Michael Blount.