- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Joe Chandler
Justin Johnson led only two laps of the rain-shortened first race of Saturday’s scheduled NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Twin 75s Late Model Stock Car Division race at South Boston Speedway. But, the last one was the one that counted.
Johnson muscled his way past leader C.E. Falk III of Virginia Beach to take the lead on the 63rd lap, grabbing the lead one lap before the dark skies opened up and NASCAR officials put the race under caution due to rain.
With rain and a brief smattering of hail splashing down, track NASCAR officials called it a day and declared Johnson the winner of the abbreviated race.
“I didn’t want to see the race rained out, but it’s good to start the season with a win,” Johnson said.
“We know we need to come test and we know what was wrong with the car. I can only imagine how good it can be because it was something else tonight and it was extremely tight. We’re going to get it better.”
Falk, who finished as the runner-up to Johnson, led 60 laps of the race that saw the lead change hands four times among three drivers. He was not at all pleased with the way Johnson drove him in the closing laps.
“We got knocked out of the lead,” the obviously frustrated Falk said.
“We had a tight car, but the guy just knocked us up the hill. If he wants to race that way, I’ll race him like that. If that’s the way he wants to play, I’ll knock him back.”
Falk was also displeased that NASCAR track officials did not throw the caution flag immediately when the first few drops of rain began falling.
“It started raining and it rained for five laps while I was leading,” Falk pointed out.
“They wouldn’t call the caution until their boy got in front. That (second) is all we got.”
Johnson said he did what he had to do in the situation.
“I knew the rain was coming and that I had to make it happen then,” Johnson explained.
“I knew I had to go. I had gotten by him before and the caution flag came out and they put him back in front of me. I was quite a bit better than him. I think I ran him down from five car lengths in two laps. I just had to push my way through.”
The race was a donnybrook from the start with a tight pack of a half a dozen cars battling for spots in the closing laps before the rain came.
Defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national Champion Philip Morris of Ruckersville was in the middle of the battle all day and finished third, edging Nick Smith of Hampton and Dustin Storm of Huntingtown, Md. for the spot.
“We had an awful good car,” Morris pointed out.
“I just didn’t have track position. I think if I could have gotten out front, I could have gotten away from all of the trouble.”
Morris said Falk was holding up traffic in the closing laps.
“C.E. was holding us all up and the 44 (Johnson) just took advantage of that and got around me,” Morris said.
“That put me to the outside and I had to battle back.”
Tommy Lemons of Troy, N.C., Deac McCaskill of Raleigh, N.C., Eddie Johnson of Midlothian, David Latour of Advance, N.C. and Josh Oakley of Rougemont, N.C. rounded out the top ten finishers.
Johnson averaged 41.614 mph in the race that was slowed by five caution flags.
Twenty-six cars took the green flag to start the race.
The second 75-lap Late Model Stock Car Division race, the 30-lap Pure Stock race and the 25-lap race for the Southern Vintage Modified Division were rained out.
Rain checks from Saturday’s race will be honored only at this weekend’s race at South Boston Speedway. Fans must bring their ticket stubs to Saturday’s race.