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Johnson wins Late Models at Lernerville

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 12:09 a.m.
Sprint car driver Jimmy Light speeds past turn 4 during the second heat race at Lernerville Speedway on Friday May 3, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Sprint car driver Jimmy Light speeds past turn 4 during the second heat race at Lernerville Speedway on Friday May 3, 2013.

Davey Johnson checked in with a powerful performance Friday night to win his 11th career Late Model feature at Lernerville Speedway.

Johnson crossed the line with just over a two-second margin over Dave Hess Jr. John Garvin Jr. finished third, followed by Russell King in fourth and Michael Norris in fifth.

Johnson started the feature in the front row beside Mike Pegher Jr. and assumed command of the race from the start. There were a few restarts during the feature, but no one was able to wrest the lead from Johnson.

“One the restarts, it took a bout a lap to get the tires up and going,” Johnson said. “It really wasn't that bad. Later in the race that really wasn't anything anyone else was doing. I was moving around the track.”

Johnson's car, prepared by 2012 World of Outlaws Late Model champion Darrell Lanigan, took a few changes during the night, but nothing too major.

“Every time you come here it's really not a local show because the field is so strong,” Johnson said. “This is a great track to test and tune, and that's why we are here. Darrell (Lanigan) wanted us to try some things here tonight, and we did. I learned that we have a pretty good car and that I shouldn't screw it up.”

While Johnson was in command of the race, the battle through the rest of the top-10 was especially good. Hess and Garvin dueled for much of the race, but Hess, the 2010 and 2011 track champion, had just a bit more at the finish.

“I'd say we needed another caution rather than a few more laps,” Hess said. “I am not sure how many laps were left when we got around John (Garvin). I was watching his (Garvin's) line before I got around him and I think he was actually a little quicker than Davey (Johnson) and myself on the bottom.

“It's just tough here to win a race,” Hess added. “If you are not in the first three rows at the start it's really hard to win here.”

King started 15th and made a terrific drive toward the front of the field.

“I would have rather have had a caution tonight,” King said. “Anymore I'd rather be the final feature of the night here because that's when I can pass some people.”

Garvin, too, would have liked another caution late in the race.

“I just needed a caution I think,” Garvin said. “I thought I was running Johnson down a little bit, but the track kind of went away from us at the end and the car got a little loose.”

Mat Williamson has enjoyed his first two weeks racing at Lernerville. The V-8 modified driver from St. Catharines, Ontario, has won both features, although this time he claimed the checkered flag rather than inheriting it after tech inspection.

“We earned this one tonight,” Williamson said. “I just love being here, and this is what I want to do. After last week we talked to some guys at Bilstein Shocks and tried some new things, and they worked tonight.”

Jim Weller was denied his 35th career Lernerville victory and finished second just in front of Brian Swartzlander. Swartzlander was disqualified after last week's apparent victory for being too light at the scales. Jeremiah Shingledecker finished fourth, and Rex King Sr. was fifth.

In the final Lernerville tune up before Friday's All Star Sprint event, Cap Henry stole one from Danny Holtgraver on the last lap to score his first Lernerville victory.

“I just screwed up and didn't race a smart race the last couple of laps,” Holtgraver said. “They gave me a good car tonight, and I didn't do what I was supposed to do.”

For Henry the victory is his first at Lernerville and the first in a couple of seasons.

“I just kept waiting for the bottom to come in because I knew the top was going to go away and I would have to be good on the bottom if I was to have a chance,” Henry said. “I didn't win a feature all of last season, so to come out and get one early, and at Lernerville, is a good thing.”

In the final feature of the night, defending Sportsman Stock champion Corey McPherson held off a challenge from A.J. Flick to win his eighth career Lernerville feature.

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