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The Cajun Rages on Short Track Nationals Night Two

Lonnie Wheatley, LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (November 6, 2009) – For the second night in a row at I-30 Speedway’s 22nd Annual O’Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires, it was a former past event winner gracing victory lane as Jason Johnson captured his fourth Lucas Oil Sprint Car Series presented by K&N Filters triumph of the season in Friday night’s 25-lap preliminary feature.

“The Ragin’ Cajun” chased down race-long leader Tim Crawley for the point on the 19th round and paced the final circuits for his ninth overall ASCS feature win of the year aboard Lanny Row’s Wesmar-powered The Shop Motorsports No. 41 Eagle.

“It’s a pretty emotional time for us right now with Lanny having to park the car at the end of the year,” Johnson commented in victory lane. “We’ve been blessed to have these last four years together, it’s been the best part of my career and we’d love to finish it on a strong note.”

Johnson beat Crawley to the stripe, with Danny Wood surviving a last-corner skirmish for the third and final lock-in position to Saturday night’s $15,000-to-win, $2,200-to-start STN championship main event.

Johnson, Crawley and Wood join Thursday night’s top three finishers (Wayne Johnson, Sammy Swindell and Tony Bruce, Jr.) in Saturday’s Odus Pack Building Materials Dash for Cash to determine the alignment of the front three rows of the main event while the balance of the 101-car field battles it out for the remaining positions.

Johnson, who captured the STN crown in 2006, earned the pole position for Friday night’s feature with 1998 winner Crawley alongside. Crawley burst into the early lead and checked out, while fourth-starter Wood made his way around Johnson as well in the opening rounds.

Johnson battled back around Wood for second around the midway point and soon reeled in Crawley, edging ahead on the 19th circuit.

The pair battled for the point until the caution flew with 22 laps in the books for Jeff Swindell, who looped it in turn four after working forward from 12th to fifth.

Johnson held steady over the final three rounds to secure the win, explaining that, “Mike (Ward) and Tim are notorious for using a lot softer left rear than we do. If we’d had a lot of early cautions, we’d have been in trouble.”

“With that long run at the start though, we just kept getting better and better as the race went on, these Hoosier tires were working great,” Johnson concluded.

Denied a second career STN win last year by an errant brake caliper bolt, Crawley settled for runner-up honors aboard Mike Ward’s McCarver-powered Boater Sports No. 88 Maxim.

“This is our home track and a win here would mean so much to us,” Crawley commented. “It might not completely make up for last year, but it would sure make it easier to forget it.”

Wood, the only driver among the six lock-ins that hasn’t topped the STN in the past, very nearly lost that third position on the final circuit.

With STN rookie contenders Donnie Ray Crawford and Seth Bergman on his tailtank on the final restart, it was local shoe Zach Pringle making a last-ditch effort for Saturday night glory.
Pringle raced by both Bergman and Crawford and then got into the back of Wood entering turn three on the final circuit. With cars scrambling in all directions, everyone maintained forward motion with Wood winning the mad dash to the stripe in Mike Hammers’ Fisher-powered H&H Enterprises No. 94 Maxim.

“I’m not sure what that was all about, but it darn near turned me right around,” Wood commented. “I’m not even sure who that guy was, but at least we know how to race him in the future.”

Crawford reclaimed fourth in the final corner scramble to establish himself as a leading STN rookie contender aboard the Wesmar-powered A&W Motorsports Tel-Star Communications No. 55 Triple-X, with I-30 Speedway shoe Pringle rounding out the top five in the family-owned No. 8z.

Washington’s Bergman battled amongst the top five most of the way before crossing the stripe a solid sixth, with Jim Moughan in seventh. Jerrod Hull was eighth, with Ray Allen Kulhanek and Danny Smith completing the top ten.

Mired at 39th in passing points after struggling in his heat race, Derek Hagar charged from 10th to third in his qualifier to earn the 13th starting position in the feature before finishing out the night in eleventh.

Kulhanek, Jason Johnson, Jeff Swindell, Kenneth Walker, Jonathan Allard and Mark Shirshekan topped heat race action for Friday night’s 49-car field, with Don Young, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Crawley and Jack Dover winning the 12-lap Qualifying races.

After just two STN rookie contenders made the feature cut on Thursday night, five rookies filled Friday’s feature field. In addition to top-ten runners Crawford, Bergman and Moughan, California aces Jonathan Allard and Kyle Larson were in the main event. After a nifty late-race move to win his heat, Allard survived some rough-and-tumble action to finish 14th while Larson was credited with 19th after getting upside down in the final corner as the checkered flag flew.

Four-time STN king Gary Wright had a night worth forgetting. After a second-place heat race run, Wright spun to a stop on the frontstretch on the second lap of his qualifier after his right front tire was clipped by another car exiting turn four. Trying to rally from the tail of the field, Wright slapped the wall exiting turn four several laps later, with his mount showing its disapproval by spitting out the driveline in turn one.

Saturday night’s 22nd Annual O’Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires championship finale gets under way at 7:00 p.m.

22nd Annual O’Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Friday Night Results:

Heat Races:

First Heat (10 Laps): 1. 17c-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 2. 1g-Cody Gardner, 3. 12h-Jerrod Hull, 4. 3a-A.G. Rains, 5. 87r-Aaron Reutzel, 6. 17b-Ryan Bickett, 7. 11xs-Donovan Peterson, 8. 1xp-Chad Pitts, 9. 16a-Koty Adams.

Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. 41-Jason Johnson, 2. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr., 3. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 4. 51s-Lee Sowell, 5. 53-Jack Dover, 6. 40r-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 7. 8m-Mike Wells. DNS: 7s-Paul Sides.

Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. 12s-Jeff Swindell, 2. 8z-Zach Pringle, 3. 94-Danny Wood, 4. 7L-Darren Long, 5. 6s-Kaley Gharst, 6. 58-Wade Oliver, 7. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 8. 17g-Bruce Griffith, Jr.

Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 2w-Kenneth Walker, 2. 9x-Gary Wright, 3. 55-Donnie Ray Crawford, 4. 88T-Tim Crawley, 5. w20-Greg Wilson, 6. 8s-Steve Short, 7. 87a-Andrew Marshala, 8. 19-Jay Adams.

Fifth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 91a-Jonathan Allard, 2. 1jm-Jim Moughan, 3. d12-Danny Smith, 4. 88b-Mike Boston, 5. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 6. 8x-Don Grable, 7. 10h-Josh Higday, 8. 72-Sherman Davis.

Sixth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 3x-Mark Shirshekan, 2. 4x-Jan Howard, 3. 77-Kyle Larson, 4. 23-Seth Bergman, 5. 75-Don Young, 6. 39-Brad Bowden, 7. 27-Andy Shouse, 8. 21tx-Brandon Schure.

Qualifying Races – Winner from Each Qualifier Locked into “A” Main; Balance of 20-car Feature Field comprised of Top 16 Overall Points Accumulated Through Heats & Qualifiers (Feature Lined up according to total points)

First Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 75-Don Young, 2. 3a-A.G. Rains, 3. 23-Seth Bergman, 4. 41-Jason Johnson, 5. 8z-Zach Pringle, 6. 77-Kyle Larson, 7. 4x-Jan Howard, 8. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 9. 7s-Paul Sides, 10. 17b-Ryan Bickett, 11. 11xs-Donovan Peterson, 12. 21tx-Brandon Schure, 13. 9x-Gary Wright.

Second Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 40r-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 2. d12-Danny Smith, 3. 55-Donnie Ray Crawford, 4. 17c-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 5. 12h-Jerrod Hull, 6. 91a-Jonathan Allard, 7. 27-Andy Shouse, 8. 8s-Steve Short, 9. 19-Jay Adams, 10. 8m-Mike Wells, 11. 7L-Darren Long, 12. 87r-Aaron Reutzel.

Third Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 88T-Tim Crawley, 2. 39-Brad Bowden, 3. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 4. w20-Greg Wilson, 5. 12s-Jeff Swindell, 6. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 7. 1g-Cody Gardner, 8. 1xp-Chad Pitts, 9. 51s-Lee Sowell, 10. 8x-Don Grable, 11. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr., 12. 17g-Bruce Griffith, Jr.

Fourth Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 53-Jack Dover, 2. 1jm-Jim Moughan, 3. 58-Wade Oliver, 4. 94-Danny Wood, 5. 6s-Kaley Gharst, 6. 2w-Kenneth Walker, 7. 88b-Mike Boston, 8. 3x-Mark Shirshekan, 9. 72-Sherman Davis, 10. 10h-Josh Higday, 11. 87a-Andrew Marshala, 12. 16a-Koty Adams.

“A” Feature – Top 3 Finishers Locked into Saturday night’s $15,000 to win STN Finale.

A Feature (25 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 41-Jason Johnson (1), 2. 88T-Tim Crawley (2), 3. 94-Danny Wood (4), 4. 55-Donnie Ray Crawford (6), 5. 8z-Zach Pringle (9), 6. 23-Seth Bergman (3), 7. 1jm-Jim Moughan (5), 8. 12h-Jerrod Hull (11), 9. 17c-Ray Allen Kulhanek (8), 10. d12-Danny Smith (7), 11. 9jr-Derek Hagar (13), 12. 1g-Cody Gardner (17), 13. 3a-A.G. Rains (15), 14. 91a-Jonathan Allard (10), 15. 12s-Jeff Swindell (12), 16. 75-Don Young (14), 17. 53-Jack Dover (19), 18. 03-Joe Wood, Jr. (16), 19. 77-Kyle Larson (20), 40r-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (18).

Lap Leaders; Tim Crawley 1-18, Jason Johnson 19-25.