The green flag waved on the 2018 season at East Carolina Motor Speedway and everything came up gold for Wesley Johnson.
Johnson, who was joined by 2017 track champion Thomas Burbage on the front row, jumped to the lead in the second turn and never looked back, holding an up to three-second lead at one time. It wasn’t until Johnson got held up by the lap car of Maddy Ryan that second place Rusty Daniels even appeared to have a chance.
But Johnson held on and gained the upper hand as the 2018 chase for a championship began at East Carolina.
“It was great, I used the brake after the setup left us around lap 30,” Johnson said. “We are going to come back next weekend and try to work it out again.”
Towards the end of the race, the sun showed up, playing havoc on the setups of a few drivers, including Johnson, who had all prepared for an overcast race after having misty conditions during practice.
“I think when the sun came up, it probably heated up the track a little bit,” Johnson said.
Second place went to Daniels, who had a hard luck award kind of day, fighting through a multitude of problems.
“We’ve had everything in the world go wrong today, from oil leaks, to changing carburetors and fuel pumps, to radiators leaking, and having to replace all our electronics,” Daniels said. “We didn’t even qualify and had to start from the back, so I think second is a pretty good finish for us.”
Third place went to Jeff Shifflett, after running up front the entire race, and getting passed by Daniels with about 15 laps to go.
“We kind of missed the setup a little bit” Shifflett said. “I had it set up for the clouds, there wasn’t any sun earlier and here comes the sun later. It probably raised the track temperature about 20 degrees more than I expected and the car got free on me.
If we got a caution, I could have come in and made me a little pit stop and it could have been a different ordeal, but we will go home with a solid third place and the car is in one piece. I have the rest of the season to make up for it.”
Shifflett also noted that there may have been fluid on the track, saying, “the 16 car was leaking gear oil and it’s all over the windshield, I don’t know if that was causing me to get loose, it has a distinct smell, so I know it was real end differential.”
The Late Model Stocks will be back in action at ECMS next weekend, with a full field expected as the racing season heats up in the Mid-Atlantic. The complete results from Saturday can be viewed below.
- Wesley Johnson
- Rusty Daniels
- Jeff Shifflett
- Thomas Burbage
- Justin Gill
- Maddy Ryan
- Kenneth Mercer
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