"I canít thank this crew enough they worked all night in shifts to get this car ready for today," Said Johnson from victory lane. The night before, while racing for the lead at Fulton speedway, Johnson experienced engine problems.
Utica Rome regulars Pat Ward and Bobby Varin brought the 32-car starting field down to the green to start the 200-lap grind. Varin, using the top side of the speedway jumped out to the early lead.
As the early laps clicked off Varin set a fast pace as he caught lapped traffic. While Varin started to slow getting through traffic that allowed Gypsum teammates Pat Ward and Billy Decker to run down Varin and make it a three car battle for the top spot.
With Varin and Ward running nose to tail on the bottom that left Decker the top lane to sweep by into the lead when lap-13 showed on the lap counter.
The first yellow of the race flew on lap-16 when Billy VanPelt made hard contact with the front stretch wall ending his day.
By lap-25 Decker and Ward were looking to stage a battle of their own and hide from the rest of the field. All eyes turned to a great side by side battle for third between Varin and Danny Johnson. As the pair raced through traffic neither could get an advantage to claim third spot.
A quick yellow came out on lap-41 for a flat on the Steve Hulsizer No.88. This bunched up the field with Decker, Ward, Varin, Johnson and Matt Sheppard in the top five.
On lap-46 Ward saw an opening up high and went around Decker to gain the top spot. By the halfway point of the first 100-laps Ward opened a full straightaway lead and Johnson moved into second and set sail for Ward.
Gary Tomkins brought out a quick yellow on lap-64 with a flat. This put Johnson right on Ward for the restart. Once again Ward jumped back to the front setting a quick pace. Johnson, Varin, Decker and Brett Hearn who started 22nd were the top five.
With Ward once again enjoying a full straightaway lead, Johnson slowly chipped away at Wards lead. When the lapped counter showed lap-85 Johnson was within one car length, setting up a 15-lap battle to the 100-lap break.
On lap-95 Johnson using the extreme low side coming out of four and went by Ward to take the apparent lead. The yellow flew for Gus Schmidt handing the lead back to Ward. At that point as the cars circled the track the yellow and checkered came out sending cars pit side to get ready for the second 100.
When the race lined up for the restart the top five were, Ward, Johnson, Hearn, Varin and Decker.
Ward once again went to the top of the track and gained a five car length lead over Johnson and Hearn and looked to run away from the pack.
By lap-110 Ward once again had a big lead and was back in lapped traffic trying to put cars between himself and Danny Johnson. Hearn, Varin and Decker were racing for third and trying to chase down the top two.
A yellow came out on lap-112 for a marker tire on the track. This bunched up the top runners once again for the restart. Johnson tried a move on the bottom in turn one to grab the top spot from Ward. As the two exited turn two Ward used his momentum on the top side to bolt back to the lead.
By lap-130 Ward was out front on cruise control leading by a half a straight over Johnson and Hearn.
On lap-140 with Ward and Johnson out front Billy Decker blasted by Hearn to take over third and took off after the top two.
With 50 to go Ward was in heavy lapped traffic and that allowed Johnson to cut Ward's big lead down to ten car lengths. Decker still ran third with Tim Fuller and Varin a straightaway behind in fourth and fifth.
It started to look like Wards tires were going away as his car started to skate through the turns. When lap-155 was in the books Johnson was within one car length of Ward. Decker was also closing in to join the battle for the win.
Johnson coming out of turn four on lap-156 was able to pull even with ward as the two drag raced down the front chute into turn one. Once again Ward was able to keep his speed up and the lead.
With 40-laps to go Johnson dove to the bottom heading into turn one pulling even once again with Ward. As the two exited turn two, Johnson found enough speed to get by Ward and take the lead.
Lapped traffic at this point with tires going away they were just as fast as Johnson not letting him get away from Ward and opening any kind of lead. Once Johnson was able to clear traffic he bolted out to a full straightaway lead on Ward and Decker.
With 10 to go Johnsonís Car was still on rails as he cruised to the win. Ward and Decker came home second and third, Tim Fuller and Willy Decker completed the top five.
"We just tried to pace ourselves and save our tires," said a happy Danny Johnson from victory lane. "Lapped traffic was tough to get by there at the end, I knew if I couldnít by them the guys behind me couldnít either."
Pat Ward with no tread left on his right rear was disappointed as he led the most laps in the 200. ďI could have been a little smarter using my tires, Danny were just the better car today" said Ward. On the bright side Ward related in the big picture a second place finish helps in the RoC Dirt Points as he plans to run the whole tour.
Third place finisher Billy Decker made a late race charge but came up short at the finish. "When the track rubbered up in the middle of turn one and two where we had our advantage I knew I was done." related Decker.
Between the two 100-lap segments the Pro Stocks ran a 25-lap $1,200 to win main. Louie Jackson made the long tow from Northern NY pay off. Jackson came from deep in the starting field to grab the victory. Jackson used a slide job on Shawn Frost in three and four on lap-16, from there Jackson cruised to the win.
DANNY JOHNSON SCORES $10,000 PAYDAY IN VICTORIA 200
Vernon NY - A new tradition was born on Mothers Day as the Dart Machinery Victoria 200 made its new home a memorable one in front of a large crowd at the Utica Rome Speedway. When 200-laps were completed Danny Johnson out of Rochester NY parked his JIR Motorsports, No.27j in victory lane. His win was worth $10,000. The race was part of the Race of Champions Dart Dirt Modified Tour.
With 67 top Modified teams in the pits it took eight heats and four consolation events to set the starting field.
Lap Leaders - Bobby Varin (1-13), Billy Decker (14-45), Pat Ward (46-159), Danny Johnson (160-200).
Heat Winners: Pat Ward, Matt Sheppard, Bobby Varin, Tim Fuller, Andy Bachetti, Billy Decker, Dave Camara, Gary Tomkins.
(North Norwich Motors & Trailer Sales $100 Bonus for each heat winner)
Consi Winners: Ryan Phelps, Steve Hulsizer, Jimmy Phelps, Ronnie Johnson.
Cars Entered: 72.
Dart Machinery Best Crew Chief: Corey Dunn.
Dart Machinery Best Appearing Car: Matt Sheppard.
Dart Machinery Hard Charger: Brett Hearn.
Dart Machinery Hard Luck: Gary Tomkins.
Dart Machinery $1,000 Bonus: Jeff Rudalavage.
National Parts Peddler Total Seal Piston Rings Bonus: Rick Laubach.
Pro Stocks ( $1,200 to win) Louie Jackson, Shawn Frost, Bill Knapp, Jim Normoyle, Tom Denton, Ivan Joslin, Roy Fifield, Bret Belden, Mark Effner, Rob Seavy, Jack Terrell, Jim Grippin, Ed Ostrander, Dave Moyer, Dan Peo, A.J Digsby.
Rt 5 Vernon, NY