Johnson holds off Cooley for $2,500 at Columbus
By Roby HelmNeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series
COLUMBUS, Miss. (Nov. 28) — Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, Tenn., dominated the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Fall Nationals Open on Saturday at Columbus Speedway, leading all 40 laps for his series-leading 12th career victory on the 5-year-old series.
The Hall of Famer Johnson, the event’s fastest qualifier, led the field into turn one at the start of the race, and never looked back, outrunning two series champions in route to the $2,500 victory.
The 2009 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Champion Eric Cooley of Fulton, Miss., made up a half straightaway deficit in the closing laps to close within a few lengths of Johnson, who was in heavy lapped traffic. Cooley ran out of laps, and had to settle for second.
“We had a good night tonight, and I’d like to thank the fans for coming out because there were a lot of other places they could have been on a holiday weekend,” Johnson said.ï¿½ “I was a little concerned about the lapped cars at the end of the race because they were racing hard, and if they had a problem, I didn’t want to be in the middle of it.”
Chip Brindle of Chatsworth, Ga., the 2008 series champion, finished third with Scott Knowles of Lanett, Ala., and Rodney Wing of Meridian, Miss., rounding out the top five.
While Cooley settled for second Saturday, he was a $2,000 winner Friday night in the Fall Nationals Invitational. Cooley took the lead when race-long leader Matthew Turner of Dawsonville, Ga., got hung up in traffic on the 19th lap of the 30-lap event.
Fall Nationals Open: (1) Ronnie Johnson, (2) Eric Cooley, (3) Chip Brindle, (4) Scott Knowles, (5) Rodney Wing, (6) Ben McCreary, (7) Charlie Henderson, (8) Jimmy Elkins Jr., (9) Michael Blount, (10) Paul Walters, (11) Evan Ellis, (12) Randy Boyd, (13) Lee Burdett, (14) Josh Huss, (15) Wiley Williams, (16) Kelly Lovorn, (17) Chris Tays, (18) Matthew Turner, (19) Larry Boutwell, (20) Shannon Lee, (21) Justin McRee, (22) Bradley Blaylock, (23) Mark Stokes, (24) Doug Sanchagrin. Fast qualifier (among 33 cars): Johnson, 14.703 seconds. Heat race winners: Wing, Huss, McRee. Consolation race winner: Tays.
Correction: Fixes winning purse in headline.