PARK CITY, Kan. — Jason Johnson measured each and every move race long leader Don Droud Jr. made and then found the perfect opportunity to execute a slide job with eleven laps remaining to claim the season opener for the National Championship Racing Ass’n 360 sprint car feature victory during the third annual “Air Capital Shootout” at 81 Speedway Saturday night.
Droud, aboard the familiar Ochs Brothers No. 1x, started on the S&S Trailer Sales pole for the 35-lap feature and quickly used his Don Ott powered Maxim chassis to power into the lead over fourth-starting Johnson, Mike Peters and Seth Bergman.
Droud kept out front while Johnson stayed glued to his rear bumper as the two front runners began to pull away from the rest of the field before the first caution of the feature fell on lap six when Tony Bruce Jr. came to a stop on the frontstretch.
Droud got a good jump on the restart and pulled away to an eight car length lead over Johnson and was set on cruise before the red flag would fly on lap ten when Tim Crawley, driving his own No. 87 sprinter, had the power plant expire with a brief burst of flames that quickly dissipated.
While Droud once again pulled away from Johnson on the restart, Bergman, who had been battling with Peters for fourth for several laps, executed a slide job in turns three and four to take over that position.
At the races midway point it was Droud still your leader followed by Johnson, Bergman, Peters and tenth starting Danny Wood the top five before the leaders began to approach lapped traffic before Jeff Stasa brought out the caution flag on lap nineteen as he rolled to a stop on the front stretch.
The attempted restart quickly went yellow as two-time and defending tour champion C.J. Johnson, his first night aboard the Danny King-owned No. e85 sprinter, slid to a stop up against the concrete wall exiting turn two.
That proved to be the final caution and on the final restart, Johnson made the most of the opportunity as he stayed glued to the leaders rear bumper and after measuring Droud for several laps, finally executed a slide job entering turns one and two to take the lead entering the back straight away on lap twenty-five.
From then on not even late race lapped traffic could slow the Stenhouse Jr. owned No. 41 RoushYates Ford powered Maxim chassis as Johnson would cruise the final 11 laps to claim the $5,000 first place prize.
“First I want to thank C Ray and his whole crew for working their butts off to get the track into race shape after all the rain they got,” said Johnson who was referring to the nearly two inches of rain that occurred earlier in the morning. “I tried him (Droud) once and I figured I would just pace him for awhile to get a judge on how fast he was going on different parts of the track. I knew turns one and two were good and I found my opportunity and made the move then.”
Droud would go on to claim the runner-up position while Bergman finished third. Wood got around Peters late to finish fourth.
Jason Johnson, Don Droud Jr., Seth Bergman, Danny Wood, Mike Peters, Johnny Herrera, Jeremy Campbell, Dustin Morgan, Lucas Wolfe, Jordan Boston, Josh Hodges, Tony Bruce Jr., Jason Danley, J.D. Johnson, John James, C.J. Johnson, Jeff Stasa, Brian Brown, Brandon Hahn, Tim Crawley.