NEWTON, N.C. — Jimmy Doyle and Jake Johnson escaped injury after being involved in a massive crash during the opening laps of a last chance race for the PASS South Easter Bunny 150 on Saturday at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Doyle and Johnson were competing in the first of two last chance races in an attempt to qualify for the Easter Bunny 150 super late model main event later in the evening. The pair made contact exiting turn four, with Doyle pinching Johnson against the outside wall on the frontstretch.
Doyle’s car got turned in front of Johnson’s car and the pair rode the outside wall all the way to a tire barrier at the entrance to turn one, with Doyle’s car slamming driver’s side first into the tire barrier.
The contact with the tire barrier sent Doyle’s car and most of the tires from the barrier into the air. Doyle did a complete flip before rolling back over and coming to rest in turn one. Both race cars were completely destroyed as a result of the impact, but both competitors walked away from the incident unharmed.
Doyle, who turns 60 on Monday, gave his opinion on what happened.
“I think everything’s fine except the car,” Doyle said. “I got under the other 71 (Harold Fair Jr.) down in three and I had a pretty good run and I thought I was going to get the lead there and he chopped me off. I got into his door and I had to back off.
“That set up the stage for this kid (Johnson) or whoever he is to come up to my right-rear corner. We came off the corner and my spotter said, ‘Outside.’ I got a little loose and I got up maybe a little higher than I should’ve. Usually an experienced driver will back off when he’s just got a left front on your right-rear corner, but he got me. I felt the tug and I went head-on into the wall.
“I saw the tire barrier coming and I thought ‘this isn’t going to be good.’ I saw the sky, rolled over and I said please roll over one more time because I want to land on my wheels.”
Johnson, who races regularly at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts, said he felt like there wasn’t much he could have done to avoid the incident with Doyle.
“I’m fine, it’s just a little emotionally wowed,” Johnson said. “I was just kind of holding my line and I was just kind of waiting for a clear gap so I could fall in and just ride. On that lap coming off turn four he just rode me high and put me in the wall. He just held me there until we were heading to the tires, which made no sense because it was early in the race and we were both just trying to get in (to the race).”
Despite the crash, Johnson says he has no plans to give up racing anytime soon. Doyle, on the other hand, admitted he’d been considering stepping away from racing even before Saturday’s crash.
“I’ve been kind of winding my hobby down. It’s getting expensive. The PASS series is becoming full-time guys instead of weekly business owners like me and you’ve got young guys with a lot of money behind them,” Doyle said. “I don’t know. I’ll regroup. You always lick your wounds and come back racing. That’s why I do it. We’ll see what happens.”