RJ Johnson Sweeps Border Tour with Cruces Triumph
LASC CRUCES, N.M. (September 3, 2016) – R.J. Johnson finished off a sweep of the weekend’s USAC Southwest Sprint Car “Border Tour” double by wiring the field in Saturday night’s 30-lap main event atop the Southern New Mexico Speedway clay oval.
Starting inside the second row, Johnson battled past front row starters Randy Smith and Matt Rossi on the opening round and then denied some mid-race challenges from Charles Davis, Jr., to secure the win in the Second Annual Joe Herrera Memorial aboard Bill Michaels’ Ford-powered Kodiak Products/Beal’s Auto Body No. 77m Sherman-chassis.
While Johnson got out front early, fifth-starter Charles Davis, Jr., worked past Smith for second by the tenth round and then moved in to challenge for the point as lapped traffic came into play. Johnson worked traffic on the low side to perfection to open up an advantage though.
A caution with ten laps to go when Chris Bonneau and Matt Lundy tangled in turn four while battling for fourth and then Smith retiring to the pit area with a cut left rear tire set the stage for the final run to the stripe with Johnson leading Davis, Jr., and Rossi, who found himself back up to third.
Davis, Jr., made a run at Johnson, but slid high to open the door for Rossi to move into second. “I tried something I probably shouldn’t have and it didn’t work, but we didn’t come here to run second,” Davis, Jr., said afterward.
Johnson kept Rossi at bay over the closing rounds to secure his seventh win in the last eight series events and tenth overall of the year. Rossi took runner-up honors with Davis, Jr., settling for third. Dennis Gile charged through the field from 23th to claim fourth with home-state shoe Matthew Cardenas rounding out the top five.
Rick Ziehl, Johnson and Rossi topped heat race action for the 24-car field. Caleb Saiz went for a wild ride off the top of turn two a lap into the second heat race, escaping injury and returning for the main event.
USAC SOUTHWEST SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS (co-sanctioned by NMMRA): September 3, 2016 – Las Cruces, New Mexico – Southern New Mexico Speedway – 2nd Annual “Joe Herrera Memorial” / “Border Tour”
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Rick Ziehl (#20Z Ziehl), 2. Brian Hosford (#22B Weber), 3. Charles Davis Jr. (#50 Massey), 4. Tye Mihocko (#5 Mihocko), 5. Michael Fanelli (#2 Fanelli), 6. JR Bonesteel (#0 Bonesteel), 7. David Dykes (#04 Dykes), 8. Ted Schlote (#29 Schlote). NT
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. R.J. Johnson (#77M Michael), 2. Matt Lundy (#98 Lundy), 3. Mike Martin (#16 Martin), 4. Chris Bonneau (#78 Bonneau), 5. Shon Deskins (#20 Deskins), 6. Nick Rael (#73 Rael), 7. Dillon Tanner (#11W West), 8. Caleb Saiz (#52NM Saiz). NT
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Matt Rossi (#02 Rossi), 2. Landon Cling (#54 Cling), 3. Randy Smith (#26 Smith), 4. Robert Marfia (#24 Marfia), 5. Matthew Cardenas (#7M Cardenas), 6. Bill Waltman (#09 Waltman), 7. David Burns (#37 Burns), 8. Dennis Gile (#13 Gile).
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. R.J. Johnson (3), 2. Matt Rossi (2), 3. Charles Davis Jr. (5), 4. Dennis Gile (23), 5. Matthew Cardenas (13), 6. Tye Mihocko (10), 7. Michael Fanelli (15), 8. Shon Deskins (12), 9. Dillon Tanner (19), 10. Brian Hosford (8), 11. Mike Martin (4), 12. Ted Schlote (22), 13. David Burns (20), 14. Chris Bonneau (11), 15. Robert Marfia (14), 16. Rick Ziehl (6), 17. JR Bonesteel (17), 18. Landon Cling (9), 19. Caleb Saiz (24), 20. David Dykes (21), 21. Bill Waltman (18), 22. Nick Rael (16), 23. Randy Smith (1), 24. Matt Lundy (7). NT