KNOXVILLE, Iowa – Jason Johnson had 10,000 more reasons to smile during the early hours of Saturday morning, following up his win on FVP ‘Hard Knox’ qualifying night with a victory in the 24th annual SPEED SPORT World Challenge at Knoxville Raceway.
Johnson charged to the lead on lap seven out of a four-wide scrum for the top spot, charging away through the middle stages of the race and then holding off a final charge from Australia’s James McFadden for his first-career win in the international invitational event.
The Eunice, La. driver collected a $10,000 winner’s payday thanks to his performance.
McFadden and Canada’s Thomas Kennedy led the field to the green flag, with McFadden taking the point immediately off the gun and opening up a second and a half lead before the caution came out on lap five as Kennedy slapped the wall from the runner-up spot.
That set up an insane restart, in which Johnson capitalized and surged around the outside to take the point for good on the pivotal seventh rotation.
Though the Rajin’ Cajun had as much as two seconds in hand through the waning laps, McFadden found a head of steam in the final two circuits and closed to within five car lengths coming to Doug Clark’s white flag.
But Johnson ultimately got away, driving off to a three-quarter of a second victory and beating McFadden to the stripe for a sweep of the night’s feature races.
“I’ll tell you what, that was a lot of fun,” Johnson said in victory lane. “A funny story for the crowd out there … (my son) says to me this morning, ‘Daddy, I had some sad eyes last night.’ I asked him why, and he said, ‘’Cause David Gravel left with your trophy!’” he laughed.
“It’s an honor to race these guys. James McFadden’s one tough customer. He was hard to beat tonight.”
Johnson’s victory meant that McFadden’s night ended in heartbreak, as it kept the Australian from being able to notch the ‘Golden Ticket’ into the Nationals.
The SPEED SPORT World Challenge rules stipulate that only the winner of the 20-lap feature has the option to utilize the 25th starting spot, meaning that there will be no 25th grid position in this year’s event.
Brad Sweet charged from 14th to finish third, with Dominic Scelzi and Brian Brown completing the top five.
RESULTS: SPEED SPORT World Challenge; Knoxville Raceway; Aug. 11, 2017
Feature (20 laps): 1. Jason Johnson ; 2. James McFadden ; 3. Brad Sweet ; 4. Dominic Scelzi ; 5. Brian Brown ; 6. Lynton Jeffrey ; 7. Ian Madsen ; 8. Greg Hodnett ; 9. Logan Schuchart ; 10. Shane Stewart ; 11. Kerry Madsen ; 12. Jamie Veal ; 13. Carson Macedo ; 14. Terry McCarl ; 15. Lucas Wolfe ; 16. Skylar Gee ; 17. Harli White ; 18. Jason Kendrick ; 19. Brooke Tatnell ; 20. Jordyn Brazier ; 21. Thomas Kennedy ; 22. Scott Bogucki ; 23. Cory Eliason .
Lap Leader(s): McFadden 1-6; Johnson 7-20.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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