Jumpin' Jack Johnson Sweeps Utica-Rome Speedway Competition On Loctite Night
VERNON, NY - The legendary Jumpin' Jack Johnson of Duanesburg swept both Twin 20-lap features for the mighty DIRT 358-Modifieds last Sunday on Loctite Night at Utica-Rome Speedway. Johnson, 56, came from the fourteenth starting position in each event and quickly worked his way to the front to claim the wins on a chilly evening. The crowd pleasing victories for the veteran driver of the Mopar-powered Witz Roofing/TEO Pro Car No. 12a were worth a total of $2,000, and earned him a guaranteed starting spot for the Super DIRT Week Sunoco/A-Plus 358-Modified Championship.
Also winning on Loctite Night were Jamie Christian of West Winfield in the DIRT Sportsman, Jerry Holmes of West Winfield in the DIRT Pro Stocks, Jeff Pastorella of Westmoreland in the Pure Stocks, and Mike Teachout in the Slingshots.
Wayne Reutimann Jr. and Pete Taylor led the first Twin 20-lap DIRT 358-Modified feature down to the flags of Starter Steve Rickett, and Reutimann grabbed the early lead. On the move was Steve Hulsizer, who came from seventh to second in one lap. Hulsizer then took the lead from Reutimann on lap 2, but Reutimann gained it back for two more laps on lap 4, just as Jack Johnson made his presence known in the top five. However, Hulsizer was on a mission, and retook the lead on lap 6, as Johnson moved into third and then past Reutimann for second. Johnson was catching Hulsizer when the halfway sign came out, with Reutimann, Mitch Gibbs, and J.J. Michaels right in behind. Hulsizer had Johnson right on his bumper, and the pair battled side by side until Johnson took the lead on lap 12. Johnson then opened up a straightaway lead and walked to his second victory of the season. Hulsizer was second, followed by Reutimann in his best career finish in third, Gibbs in fourth, and Ryan Baye in fifth. Jason Barney, Michaels, Todd Burley, Paul Jensen, and John Barker rounded out the top ten. After the event was over, Johnson drew a number out of a jug to invert the top fourteen finishers in the first event to set the lineup for the second 20-lap grind.
Andy Romano and Pete Taylor paced the second Twin 20-lap DIRT 358-Modified feature, and when the green came out, Romano was the leader. However, last week's winner John Ramsey took command on lap 2, but defending track champion Ron Holmes was looking for his first victory of the season. Holmes took the lead on lap 5 after a great battle with Ramsey, but once again, on a mission from deep in the pack was Jack Johnson. Johnson was simply flying around the outside edge of the speedway, and raced into fourth on lap 7. On a lap 7 restart, Burley challenged Holmes for the lead, and Johnson raced with John Barker for third, but Holmes fell out of the event on the backstretch with an undisclosed problem on his Bicknell machine. Burley benefited and took the lead due to the misfortune of Holmes, but right there was Johnson, who was looking for his second victory of the evening. Johnson dove under Burley in turn three and took the lead on lap 9. At the halfway, it was Johnson, Burley, Barker, Gus Schmidt and Ryan Baye. Johnson was able to hold on for the remainder of the event, and hold off Burley who peeked underneath on several restarts for his second victory of the evening. Burley was second, followed by Schmidt, Barker, Baye, Paul Jensen, John Ramsey, Ted Lamb, Andy Romano, and Jeff Kotary.
Johnson now has three victories this season at Utica-Rome and twenty-three career victories spanning over seven winning seasons, moving him up to seventh on the all-time feature win list. Johnson, the 1982 Big Block Modified track champion, won a guaranteed starting position (given to the winner of the first feature) in the Sunoco Race Fuels/A-Plus Mini Marts 358-Modified Championship 150 during Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds on October 6.
"This car works real good here at Utica-Rome," said Johnson after his sweep of the night's features. "It really likes the track, and that makes it easy for me. We've worked hard on getting the right gear ratio, and I think we get better each time. Fourteen must be our lucky number tonight."
Two minor cautions slowed the first feature, while seven yellows (mostly for spins) came out in the second event, with the most serious incident being in the second event with Pete Taylor and Chad Ward. Both cars suffered heavy damage in the turn two incident. 358-Modified heat victories went to Holmes, Hulsizer, and Jensen.
Jamie Christian came from the fifteenth starting position to claim his second consecutive feature win in the DIRT Sportsman division, after racing with no power steering for nearly half the event. Christian took the lead from John Kinsella on lap 12 of the 20-lap event, and held off the late race charge of Tim Clemons, who finished second. Third was Shawn Donath, followed by Dan Yankowski, and Kinsella. Willy Decker, Kinsella, and Clemons won the Sportsman heat events.
Jerry Holmes won his fourth 15-lap DIRT Pro Stock feature of the season after coming from fourteenth to hold off Bill Knapp for the victory. Knapp was looking for his first career win, but Holmes was just too strong, and took the lead on lap 13 as he rode to victory. Knapp held on for second, followed by Dave Moyer, John Pietrowicz, and Bret Belden. Belden and Pietrowicz won the heat races.
Jeff Pastorella came from the eleventh starting position to win his third Pure Stock feature event of the season. Pastorella took the lead from David Pope on lap 6 and led the rest of the 15-lap distance to claim the win. Jim Thomas, George Schulze, Waylan Wilczek, and David Pope rounded out the top five. Schulze and Pope were the heat race winners.
Mike Teachout took the lead from Dave Barrows on lap 9 of the 15-lap Slingshot feature event and went on to his first career victory in the division. Barrows was second, followed by Harry Lindsey, A.J. Digsby, and Denny Tilison. Barrows and Randy Marsh won the Slingshot heats.
Notes - 22 Modifieds, 27 Sportsman, 22 Pro Stocks, 23 Pure Stocks, and 13 Slingshots were on hand for the chilly evening of racing, luckily held after an afternoon thunderstorm dumped heavy rain on speedway grounds. The cold front came through, the skies cleared, and racing went on as planned on Loctite Night. A gigantic fireworks display by American Fireworks of Utica went on after the racing was completed to celebrate our great nation's independence. Veteran driver Roger Phelps was not in attendance, after he suffered severe burns the night before at Can-Am, due to a blown radiator hose. The Modified chassis win count: Troyer 4, TEO 2, and Bicknell 1. Coming up next Sunday July 8 is the annual Family Autograph Night, featuring the DIRT 358-Modifieds, DIRT Sportsman, DIRT Pro Stocks, Pure Stocks, and Slingshots plus the popular driver autograph session. Race time is set for 6pm. To catch up on the latest news, point standings, driver rosters, action photos, and more, log on to the official website at www.newuticaromespeedway.com.