BIRCH RUN MI -- In a near-photo finish, ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series stand-out Johnny Witham turned back a late-race charge by Darren Jones and capped off a perfect day at the races to win the thrilling Lincoln Electric-AGA Gas 50-lap feature...
BIRCH RUN MI -- In a near-photo finish, ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series stand-out Johnny Witham turned back a late-race charge by Darren Jones and capped off a perfect day at the races to win the thrilling Lincoln Electric-AGA Gas 50-lap feature event Friday night at Dixie Motor Speedway.
Jones got a run on Witham off turn two on the final lap and maneuvered his Pusch's Restaurant Ford inside of Witham in turn three. With the checkered flag in the air and the packed house on its feet, both Ohio drivers raced even-up off the final corner. However, Witham, who carried an ounce more momentum on the high side, edged Jones by about six inches at the final stripe.
"It was an incredible race, especially that last lap," Witham said. "But we led every lap, and after the way our season has gone, we weren't about to give it up on the last round. I want to thank Darren (Jones) for racing me clean; it could have gotten messy coming down for the checkered but he raced me right. And I want to thank my truck owner AJ Pate for hanging in there. Up till now, most of our luck's been all bad this year so this couldn't have come at a better time."
Witham, in the Pate Manufacturing-Fab Shop Ford, won the Old Milwaukee Pole Award and led every lap to earn his third career ARCA truck triumph in his 35th attempt. In addition, the Hamilton, Ohio veteran and '99 ARCA Pro-4 champion won the Cloyes Gear Halfway Leader Award as well as the Revenge Pole-Win Bonus for winning from the pole.
Jones, who chalked up his second consecutive runner-up finish, also won the Ed & Company Hard Charger award for the second straight week for advancing the most positions, from the 14th starting position.
By the time Jones raced his way into second, Witham had a sizeable lead but a caution with ten laps remaining allowed Jones to line-up directly behind the eventual winner for the final restart. Jones pressed Witham continually before making his final charge.
Erie, Michigan driver Chad Guinn finished third in the BFI-Northland Collision Ford ahead of Pete Wormcastle who steered Kyle Witwer's Preferred Inc Painting & Roofing Chevy home in fourth. 1999 ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series champion Bill Withers, in the Mannings USA-Hall Electronics Ford, finished fifth.
Defending series champion and current point leader Robbin Slaughter was relegated to a 16th place finish after tangling with a lapped truck after just 21 laps completed. Tully Esterline, Dave Reeb, leading rookie of the year contender Brett Oakley, Eugene Crase and Stan Maitlen completed the top-ten finishers respectively. In all, 11 trucks finished on the lead lap.