Johnson Snatches Victory from Chadd in NCRA 360 Sprint Cars HUTCHINSON, Kan. (July 15, 2006) -- J.D. Johnson made a dramatic move to grab the lead from Mike Chadd five laps from the checker and win in the O'Reilly NCRA 360 Sprint Car Series, ...
Johnson Snatches Victory from Chadd in NCRA 360 Sprint Cars
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (July 15, 2006) -- J.D. Johnson made a dramatic move to grab the lead from Mike Chadd five laps from the checker and win in the O'Reilly NCRA 360 Sprint Car Series, presented by ICM/Ethanol, at the prestigious 50th Annual Hutchinson Grand National Auto Races.
Chadd lead from the pole and quickly moved away from the field. But just as quickly, defending series champion Garry Lee Maier caught the leader to make it a two-car show.
A fuel leak suddenly slowed Maier, who rolled to a stop on the backstretch of lap four and brought out an early caution. He restarted in 16th but unfortunately for the season point leader wasn't able to move up and was never a factor.
With Maier out of the picture, Johnson inherited the runner-up spot behind the high flying Chadd on the restart. The two of them quickly broke away from the others, as rookie Marc Robe, Steve King, and Mike Peters rounded out the top five.
It was Chadd and Johnson leading the way, with Robe holding off King for third. Peters stayed in fifth as Gavin Punch moved into sixth on lap 10. Punch was continuing his march through the field, after winning the B-feature and starting the A-feature in 13th.
Although the top six drivers remained the same most of the rest of the 20 laps, the action was exciting. Up front, Johnson slowly pulled up behind Chadd, even stuck the nose of his racecar down low a few times, just to let the leader know he was still there.
As they completed lap 14, Chadd got into turn one just a little too deep, which was all the room Johnson needed.
"I got just good enough run underneath to steal the bottom line," he said. "He (Chadd) tried to bring it down and save it but luckily we got there in time to complete the pass."
Chadd lost another position on the next lap as Robe took over the runner-up spot and sat sail for the leader. On lap 18 King, who was running fourth behind Chadd, pulled into the infield with a flat right rear tire. With the racecars circulating under the caution, King's crew replaced the tire, the two-time series champion was able to rejoin the field.
King's misfortunate allowed Robe to move up behind Johnson. Chadd remained in third, but Peters and Punch were elevated into fourth and fifth, respectively, with only two laps to go.
Although Johnson held off Robe over the final two circuits to win his second NCRA 360 Sprint Car Series career race, there was a lot of movement behind them.
On lap 18, Punch moved around Chadd for third while Luke Cranston took over fifth from Peters. Punch held on to finish third but Chadd lost two more spots as both Cranston and Peters passed him on the last lap; Cranston was fourth with Peters fifth.
Winning the Hutchinson Nationals was a big load lifted off Johnson's shoulders.
"It means everything to me," he said. "We've come so close so many times here, but something would break or something would go wrong.
"It's great to finally finish the deal strong."