AUDIO/RECAP: Stevie Johns wins wild Young Lions feature; Byron among others who score in Winter Heat opener

Jacob Seelman Audio, Carolinas Racing, Featured, Southeast, US Legends/INEX 1 Comment

January 6, 2014 — Audio, cover photo and recap by Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — CONCORD, NC — There are some days at the race track when Hollywood just doesn’t quite nail the script.

And Stevie Johns Jr. was happier than anyone the script got flipped Saturday afternoon during the 2014 Legends Winter Heat season opener at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Johns slipped to the inside after a melee at the front of the Young Lions field with five laps to go swept up three of the top four drivers, including race leader and polesitter Carson Ferguson. The incident set up a green-white-checkered finish and allowed Johns to slip away from AJ Davis and Jordan Mander over the final two laps to secure his first victory at Charlotte in over a year.

“The finish was insane,” Stevie said of his race in victory lane. “I saw them spinning ahead of us and at that point you’re just looking for a hole and praying you don’t get hit. Somehow we managed to get through.”

“This is a huge win for us to open the year. 2013 was a bit rough, but we’re definitely firing on all cylinders now and I’m excited to take this and move forward.”

Carson Ferguson started from the top spot and darted out to the early lead from the pole position ahead of Dillon Faggart before an early caution at Lap 2 for a two-car incident involving Jordan Mander and Jadyn Larsen stacked up the field. After a second early caution, the field began to string out behind the front pair of Ferguson and Faggart after a couple of furious battles among the top six.

A green flag stretch opened up until just after halfway, when a Grant Greisbach spin brought out the third caution of the event with nine laps remaining. On the ensuing restart, a three-wide maneuver involving Matt Craig, Faggart and Johns was a glimpse of the chaos to come before a Dawson Cram stoppage slowed the field for a fourth time and set up the wild feature ending.

And it wasn’t just one multi-car melee with five laps to go, but two, that characterized the end of the event. The first Lap 15 incident swept up Stefan Parsons, Tripp Gerrald, and Alex Murray before the penultimate restart. On that green flag, Matt Craig, Dillon Faggart and race leader Carson Ferguson all came together in Turns 1 and 2 and sparked the race-changing multi-car crash that took a red flag to sort out, putting Ferguson, Faggart, Craig and Gerrald (for the second time) to the back of the field for the final sprint to the finish.

From there, though surprise podium runners AJ Davis and Jordan Mander gave it a shot, it was no contest and no pressure for Stevie Johns, who led only the final two laps en route to the victory.

In the Pro class, the different look to the field provided one of the most competitive and evenly-matched fields of the season, with both William Byron and Michael Torres moving up to the Pro ranks after racing in Young Lions in 2013. Add in the return of the Black Knight, Daniel Hemric, in the Ladyga Motorsports #48, and you have the recipe for a wild 20 lap main event.

And shockingly, while the 20 laps was fast and furious, the Pro feature ran from green to checkered. Byron, who started from pole in just his second-ever Pro feature start, darted away early and held a solid gap from start to finish over Hemric the dominator to claim his first career Pro feature victory over the most successful Legends Pro racer in USLCI history.

“It’s unbelievable,” Byron said in victory lane after holding Hemric off over the closing laps. “Daniel’s one of the best in the business in these cars, and to come out and grab a victory, it’s amazing. The competition level moving up to Pro, I knew it was gonna be a big jump, and to come out and be this competitive is a huge confidence booster for me and for the team.”

Sheldon Crouse held off a furious late-race charge from young gun Carl Vilardo in the Semi-Pro feature to claim his first-career USLCI class victory on the biggest stage in Legends car racing. In an event that ran start-to-finish, Crouse claimed the lead on Lap 2 after an early battle with Billy Webb and never looked back to score the biggest triumph of his career.

“This is huge,” a stunned Crouse said in Victory Lane after the event. “It feels like another race until you get out of the car, but this is awesome.”

Scott Whitaker led from start-to-finish in the Masters division feature, holding off Jon Craig and Carl Cormier for the win in his Chris Rogers-prepared #09 car in another green-to-checkered feature event.

Justin Taylor scored a big win in his first-ever Bandolero Outlaws start, holding off a hard-charging Austin Powell over the final five laps en route to the victory. Powell came home in second after charging from the back of the field and nearly making a move for the lead with a lap and a half to go before getting a little loose down the stretch.

Daniel Wilk (Bandits) and Ashton Higgins (Beginner Bandits) also took Bandolero feature wins on the afternoon.


RESULTS: US Legends Winter Heat Round #1 – Charlotte Motor Speedway, 1/4/14

Legends Pro (20 laps): 1. William Byron, 2. Daniel Hemric, 3. Michael Torres, 4. Zane Smith, 5. Evan Swilling, 6. Ryan Mackintosh, 7. Trey Jarrell, 8. Jordan Black, 9. Gregory Lang, 10. Joe Ryan Osborne, 11. Clayton Weatherman, 12. Jared Irvan

Audio with winner William Byron:

Audio with runner-up Daniel Hemric:

Audio with third-place Michael Torres:

Legends Masters (20 laps): 1. Scott Whitaker, 2. Jon Craig, 3. Carl Cormier, 4. Robby Faggart, 5. Bruce Silver, 6. Shawn Geisel, 7. Scott Montgomery, 8. Brandon Wrisley

Audio with winner Scott Whitaker:

Legends Semi-Pro (20 laps): 1. Sheldon Crouse, 2. Carl Vilardo, 3. Billy Webb, 4. Joey Mathis, 5. Tyler Janocha, 6. Blake Spears, 7. Andrew Rogers, 8. Austin Allen, 9. Tyler Truex, 10. Craig Biryla, 11. Nicholas Naugie, 12. Devin O’Connell, 13. Jake Tretow

Audio with winner Sheldon Crouse:

Legends Young Lions (17 laps; race shortened due to time limit): 1. Stevie Johns Jr., 2. AJ Davis, 3. Jordan Mander, 4. Jadyn Larson, 5. Alex Reece, 6. Ryan Millington, 7. Stefan Parsons, 8. Jacob Heafner, 9. Alex Murray, 10. Tripp Gerrald, 11. Carson Ferguson, 12. Grant Greisbach, 13. Dillon Faggart, 14. Matt Thomas, 15. Scott Joy, 16. Dawson Cram, 17. Matt Craig, 18. Connor Pyle, 19. Christian Eckes

Audio with winner Stevie Johns:

Audio with runner-up AJ Davis:

Audio with third-place Jordan Mander:

Audio with Carson Ferguson post-feature:

Audio with Christian Eckes post-feature:

Bandolero Outlaws (20 laps): 1. Justin Taylor, 2. Austin Powell, 3. Ivan Gudmestead, 4. Jacob Brumagin, 5. Eric Brown, 6. Cory Hall, 7. Matthew Davey, 8. Jack Fread, 9. Nick MacMillan, 10. Hunter Richards, 11. Hannah Bell

Audio with winner Justin Taylor:

Audio with runner-up Austin Powell:

Bandolero Bandits (20 laps): 1. Daniel Wilk, 2. Clay Thompson, 3. Zach Wells, 4. Richard Kuty, 5. Brayde Miranda, 6. Henry Broadbent Jr., 7. Braydn Mander

Audio with winner Daniel Wilk:

Bandolero Beginner Bandits (20 laps): 1. Ashton Higgins, 2. Cameron Bolin, 3. William Robusto, 4. Kyle Campbell, 5. Dillon Notaro, 6. Isabella Robusto, 7. T. Adams, 8. Xander Broadbent, 9. Josh Speed


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