SOMERTON, Ariz. — Drawing the highest pill to earn the final starting spot in heat race competition, Jason Johnson turned his night around making the redraw for Friday’s A-Feature; drawing the pole and leading flag-to-flag for his ninth Protect the Harvest A-Feature triumph of the season.
Taking one step closer to the season ending $60,000 champion’s prize, Johnson’s win also put the MVT No. 41 that much close to a $25,000 payday Saturday night, rather than $20,000, if the Eunice, La., shoe can complete the weekend sweep at the Cocopah Speedway, only needing to take the green flag in Saturday’s finale to secure his fourth Lucas Oil ASCS National Championship.
Finishing ahead of Danny Lasoski by 3.675 seconds, Johnson was all but a lap away from his night ending early as the engine under the bonnet of the No. 41 turned its final revolution as the checkered flag flew.
Dropping a cylinder in the closing laps, Johnson was unsure if it was an engine, or fuel leak that was causing the Roush/Yates power plant to skip a beat. During his post-race interview, Johnson admitted to playing a little dangerous and finishing despite being covered in methanol.
“I’ll be honest, most of the time when I feel fuel, or smell fuel, I’m out of there,” Johnson said. “I’ve been burned too many times to take a chance, but there’s a lot of money on the line right here in addition to the point’s championship. We like to defy the odds and the odds are definitely against us tomorrow to pull off the clean sweep, but we’ll give it our best shot.”
Danny Lasoski capitalized on a lap 21-restart to grab second from Tony Bruce Jr.
Taking the BC Funds No. 21 through the center of the Cocopah Speedway entering turn one, Lasoski commented on the move by simply saying, “Whereever Tony went, I was going the opposite.”
Bruce settled for the final step on the podium in the Briley Trucking No. 18 after several closing lap battles that involved Johnny Herrera, Jonathan Cornell, and at times Christopher Bell.
“I was running the bottom of one and two and all the sudden it just went away but all in all, we’re locked in for tomorrow and that’s the important thing. Sometimes you just get a little bit lucky and fortunately, luck was on our side tonight,” said Bruce.
Jonathan Cornell edged Johnny Herrera in the final turns to capture the final transfer into Saturday’s A-Feature. Herrera’s fifth-place run was his 25th of the season.
Jason Johnson, Danny Lasoski, Tony Bruce Jr., Jonathan Cornell, Johnny Herrera, Christopher Bell, Aaron Reutzel, Roger Crockett, Jeff Swindell, Bryan Clauson, Logan Forler, D.J. Netto, Brad Loyet, Travis Rilat, Reece Goetz, Colby Copeland, Dustin Morgan, Seth Bergman, Brandon Hahn, James Mosher, Cole Wood, Matt Covington, Rick Ziehl, Henry VanDam, Kolt Walker.