Smoky Mountain Speedway
Buckingham's DQ hands victory to Johnson
By Roby HelmNeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series
MARYVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 15) — Hall of Fame driver Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, Tenn., was awarded the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series win Saturday at Mountain Raceway Park after apparent winner Shanon Buckingham of Morristown, Tenn., was disqualified for using unapproved fuel. | Slideshow
The victory was Johnson’s second of the season, and his series-leading 10th career win with the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. While Johnson was disappointed for Buckingham’s misfortune, he was happy to accept the winner’s trophy.
“I know Shanon and his crew worked just as hard as we did to race here tonight, and I’m sure he didn’t intentionally have the wrong fuel in the car,” Johnson said. “I know how he feels because I’ve lost a few like that in my career, but at the same time, I’ll gladly take the big trophy. I want to thank the guys that came down from Knoxville to my shop and helped me get my crate engine in this car. I wouldn’t have been here without their help.”
Buckingham set fast time and led all 50 laps before going to the post-race technical inspection. Buckingham took full responsibility for the disqualification.
“I just forgot that the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series prohibits the use of the fuel we had in the car tonight,” Buckingham said. “What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong."
It was a typical Ronnie Johnson night, as he was late getting to the track, missed his spot for qualifying, came out at the end of qualifying with a cold race car, took one lap, and posted the eighth-fastest time among the 29 entrants which locked him into the feature race. Johnson methodically worked his way through the pack from the eighth starting spot, and moved up to second on lap 30, putting him in the position that would lead to victory.
Ben McCreary of Baldwyn, Miss., finished second followed by 15-year-old Hunter Best of Greenback, Tenn., Todd Morrow of East Ridge, Tenn., and series points leader Eric Cooley of Fulton, Miss., rounded out the top five.
Notes: Johnson's Warrior Race Car is sponsored by Miller Bros. Coal. ... Hall of Fame dirt racer and former NASCAR star Jeff Purvis of Clarksville, Tenn., was on hand to greet race fans and sign autographs. ... Seventeen drivers completed all 50 laps. ... Next up for series competitors is a two-race weekend at Whynot Motorsports Park near Meridian, Miss., on Aug. 28-29.
NeSmith @ Mountain Raceway Park: (1) Ronnie Johnson, (2) Ben McCreary, (3) Hunter Best, (4) Todd Morrow, (5) Eric Cooley, (6) P.J. Feistritzer, (7) Steve Jones, (8) Derrick Rainey, (9) Brad Coffey, (10) Jason Hiett, (11) Josh Henry, (12) Jacob Grizzle, (13) Michael Arnold, (14) Matthew Turner, (15) Jeff Fields, (16) Marcus Minga, (17) Larry Boutwell, (18) Chase Washington, (19) Jimmy Hiett, (20) Seth Wimpey, (21) Shannon Lee, (22) Jensen Ford, (23) David Gentry. Disqualified: Shanon Buckingham. Fast qualifier (among 29 cars): McCreary, 18.355 seconds. Consolation race winners: Ford, Morrow.