Smoky Mountain Speedway
Johnson wins at Maryville in classic R.J. style
By Roby HelmNeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series
MARYVILLE, Tenn. (July 10) – Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, Tenn., captured his 13th career victory with the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Saturday at Mountain Raceway Park. The victory kept the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer’s streak alive of winning at least one race in each of the series’ six seasons.
It was a typical Ronnie Johnson night, as he arrived at the track late, qualified 23rd quick without hot laps, came from seventh to third in his qualifying race, started 15th in the main event, then rallied to overtake race-long leader Greg Martin of Oliver Springs, Tenn., on the 44th of 50 laps. He took the checkered flag three seconds ahead of Martin.
“We’ve had a rough week, and an especially rough day, and I didn’t think we were going to make it here tonight,” Johnson said. “We got about halfway here, and I thought about turning around and going back home, but I’m glad we didn’t. The fans that came here tonight made it all worthwhile, and I’m glad we were able to come out here and put on a show for them.”
Martin led 43 laps but knew he had his hands full in the race’s late stages. “When I looked up at the scoreboard and saw that Johnson was up to third, I knew we were about to have a bad night,” he said.
Jason Welshan of Madisonville, Tenn., finished third and fast qualifier Kenny Compton of Bland, Va., was fourth. Jake Teague of Oliver Springs rounded out the top five.
Thunder on the Mountain 50: (1) Ronnie Johnson, (2) Greg Martin, (3) Jason Welshan, (4) Kenny Compton Jr., (5) Jake Teague, (6) Eric Cooley, (7) Brian Kinnersley, (8) Steve Jones, (9) Brandon Williams, (10) Matthew Turner, (11) Justin McRee, (12) Shannon Lee, (13) Justin Summers, (14) Adam Beeler, (15) Randy Weaver, (16) Michael Blount, (17) Larry Harrod, (18) Hunter Best, (19) Chris McElhenney, (20) Chuck Laney, (21) Chris Wilson, (22) Brad Hall, (23) Charlie Henderson, (24) Tyler Millwood. Fast qualifier (among 29 cars): Compton, 17.715 seconds. Consolation race winners: Turner, Hall. Provisional starters: McRee, Blount.