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Freedom rings true for R.J. Johnson at Lawton


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Freedom Rings True for R.J. Johnson at Lawton


by Lonnie Wheatley


LAWTON, Okla. (August 13, 2014) – Phoenix ace R.J. Johnson has held the hottest of Arizona hands in non-wing Sprint Car racing over the past year and a half or so.So it was only fitting that he carried that hot hand over to Oklahoma where he topped the opening round of the four-race USAC Southwest Sprint Car Series’ Second Annual “Freedom Tour” on Wednesday night atop the ¼-mile Lawton Speedway red clay oval.



TWC photo


And he denied native Okie Brady Bacon a win in front of his home state crowd in the process with a move into the lead 19 rounds into the 30-lapper for the $2,500 triumph.


“He was fast, I knew my best chance would be in traffic and a door opened up for me,” the current USAC Southwest points leader and defending series champion commented after his sixth series score of the year that also moved him atop the Beaver Stripes Non-Wing 360 Sprint Car Power Rankings.


Bacon’s view of traffic differed, commenting that, “I’m not really sure what they were thinking.”


After racing from sixth to win his heat race aboard the Ford-powered Michaels No. 77m Kodiak Products Sherman-chassis, Johnson gridded the feature field sixth with Bacon and Charles Davis, Jr., leading the way to the green flag.


But before the feature officially went green after a couple of failed attempts, Davis, Jr., was forced pitside with a flat left rear tire which moved Norman, OK, shoe Koby Barksdale to the front row outside and Johnson up to fourth.


While Bacon gunned into the immediate lead, Johnson slid right up to second and pressured the Broken Arrow, OK, native for the point several times in the early going before waiting for his opportunity in lapped traffic.


With traffic coming into play at the midway point, one Bacon miscue on the 19th round was all Johnson needed to take command.

A caution with five to go and then another as the white flag flew when Seth Bergman climbed the hefty turn four cushion gave Bacon extra life even as he kept the pressure on, but he was unable to capitalize with Johnson racing on to his first Freedom Tour win after missing out on last year’s Inaugural version Bacon settled for runner-up honors ahead of Yuma’s Mike Martin, whose rally into the lead on the initial start of the race was waved off by a caution.


After winning the second of two “B” Mains for the 34-car field, Aaron Reutzel charged from 18th to fourth with Barksdale rounding out the top five.


Dustin Morgan was sixth, with Casey Shuman rebounding from a broken throttle linkage in heat race action and then a pair of feature incidents to advance from 22nd to seventh after utilizing a promoter’s option for the feature.


Josh Pelkey was eighth, with Shon Deskins and Colby Copeland completing the top ten.



Martin, Davis, Jr., Johnson and Bacon topped heat race action with Bergman and Reutzel winning the “B” Mains.


The Second Annual USAC Southwest Sprint Cars “Freedom Tour” continues Thursday night at Creek County Speedway in Sapulpa, OK, before moving to 81 Speedway in Wichita, KS, on Friday and then wrapping up at Dodge City Raceway Park in southwest Kansas on Saturday night.


The Vitals:

Series: USAC Southwest Sprint Cars Freedom Tour Round One

Track: Lawton Speedway (Lawton, OK)

Car Count: 34


Heat Races (10 Laps – Top 16 in Passing Points to “A” Main):


Heat 1: 1. 16-Mike Martin (2), 2. 09-Josh Stephens (1), 3. 20-Shon Deskins (6), 4. 7s-Robert Sellers (4), 5. 17w-Harli White (5), 6. 45-Martin Edwards (3), 7. 94T-Tim Kent (8), 8. 9$-Kyle Clark (7), 9. 51-Matt Ward (9).


Heat 2: 1. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (2), 2. 5-Tye Mihocko (6), 3. 22-Koby Barksdale (8), 4. 2-Seth Bergman (3), 5. 74-Colby Copeland (7), 6. 2j-Zach Blurton (5), 7. 4j-Casey Shuman (1), 8. 14-Shawn Bloomquist (4). DNS: 9-Jesse Higginbotham.


Heat 3: 1. 77m-R.J. Johnson (6), 2. 12-Josh Pelkey (1), 3. 29-Michael Bonneau (2), 4. 41w-Rick Ziehl (3), 5. 50z-Zach Chappell (8), 6. 17-Blake Hahn (7), 7. 02-Brandon Long (4), 8. 24-Kevin Risley (5).


Heat 4: 1. 99-Brady Bacon (2), 2. 5$-Danny Smith (4), 3. 93-Dustin Morgan (6), 4. 11c-Michael Curtis (1), 5. 03-Joe Wood, Jr. (8), 6. 87-Aaron Reutzel (7), 7. 96-Cody Brewer (3), 8. 78-Chris Bonneau (5).


B Mains (12 Laps – Top 2 Advance):


B Main 1: 1. 2-Seth Bergman (1), 2. 78-Chris Bonneau (8), 3. 17-Blake Hahn (3), 4. 4j-Casey Shuman (7), 5. 96-Cody Brewer (6), 6. 11c-Michael Curtis (2), 7. 2j-Zach Blurton (4), 8. 51-Matt Ward (9), 9. 45-Martin Edwards (5).


B Main 2: 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel (3), 2. 17w-Harli White (2), 3. 41w-Rick Ziehl (1), 4. 94T-Tim Kent (4), 5. 9$-Kyle Clark (6), 6. 14-Shawn Bloomquist (8), 7. 24-Kevin Risley (7), 8. 02-Brandon Long (5). DNS: 9-Jesse Higginbotham.


A Main (30 Laps):


A Main: 1. 77m-R.J. Johnson (6), 2. 99-Brady Bacon (1), 3. 16-Mike Martin (3), 4. 87-Aaron Reutzel (18), 5. 22-Koby Barksdale (4), 6. 93-Dustin Morgan (9), 7. 4j-Casey Shuman (22), 8. 12-Josh Pelkey (11), 9. 20-Shon Deskins (8), 10. 74-Colby Copeland (15), 11. 78-Chris Bonneau (19), 12. 2-Seth Bergman (17), 13. 5$-Danny Smith (7), 14. 50z-Zach Chappell (12), 15. 5-Tye Mihocko (5), 16. 17-Blake Hahn (21), 17. 7s-Robert Sellers (16), 18. 29-Michael Bonneau (14), 19. 03-Joe Wood, Jr. (13), 20. 09-Josh Stephens (10), 21. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (2), 22. 17w-Harli White (20).

Lap Leaders: Brady Bacon 1-18, R.J. Johnson 19-30.


Note: Blake Hahn and Casey Shuman both started the feature via a Promoter’s Provisional.


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