BRAINERD, Minn. – Brian Johnson of Anoka, Minn. drove his SS/JA ’73 Plymouth to victory at the Lucas Oil Nationals held at Brainerd International Raceway. Competing in his first national event final round, Johnson defeated last year’s No. 9 ranked driver Jason DeForrest of Andover, Minn.
While Johnson’s reaction time average of .043 wasn’t stellar, he was great when it counted and he relied on a consistent racecar that ran close to the dial throughout eliminations.
Johnson started eliminations with a holeshot win over Bill Zaskowski. Johnson used a .019 to .083 reaction time advantage to post a .027 over 11.157 to defeat the -.004 break out pass of Zaskowski.
Johnson’s second round opponent, Randall Klein, missed his dial by a tenth and a half giving Johnson the victory. While Klein mowed the tree down with a .001 reaction, he could only muster an 11.394 out of his beautiful, high-winding ’56 Nomad on his 11.25 dial. Johnson caught Klein, rolled him through the finish by about two feet to go .088 above and move into round three.
Johnson produced his best run of the weekend against touring racer Marion Stephenson in the third round. Johnson was .009 at the tree, pedaled once on the top end to take .009 stripe to go .015 over his dial and turn on the win light. Johnson’s .024 package was more than Stephenson could overcome after he was .044 at the tree.
Johnson won a close race against Topeka winner Michael Mans and his fast SS/AS ’00 Firebird. Mans took a .038 to .071 lead at the starting line, but failed to capitalize at the top end. Johnson dropped hard at the stripe, killing .03 to go dead on 2, which Mans failed to catch. Mans took .037 stripe to break out -.002 with his 8.788 E.T. Johnson showed you have to drive both ends of the track to see some electricity in your lane.
After Division 2 racer Jeff Adkinson turned it red by -.023 in the semifinals, Johnson cruised to his first national event final.
Number one qualifier Jason DeForrest made his fifth national event final at Brainerd. After a red-light win over Dick Lux in the first round, DeForrest won a super close race over Sam Reulasnd in round two. Reulasnd took a .018 to .055 advantage at the start but couldn’t run close to his dial. Reuslasnd ran a .053 over 10.253 which allowed DeForrest just enough room to sneak by at the finish line by .007. DeForrest did a great job tightening up the stripe to go dead-on with a 9 for the win.
DeForrest’s third round opponent, Stephanie Diekema, suffered a similar fate as Reulasnd as she couldn’t run the number giving DeForrest room to scrub E.T. and take the win. Diekema’s .044 over 10.104 came up short against DeForrest’s .027 over 9.317.
After a fourth round bye, DeForrest won a close break out contest against Brad Haugaard. DeForrest had the better light, .046 to .063, but couldn’t run the number on the top end. DeForrest’s all-out .057 over 9.357 put him well behind Haugaard as they approached the stripe. Haugaard braked to kill .02 at the stripe but missed his dial by -.005. Haugaard’s 10.195 on his 10.20 dial sent him home and sent DeForrest to his fifth national event final round.
In the final, DeForrest, driving his GT/FA ’05 Cavalier, left way early to give Johnson his first win. For his part, Johnson lit up the scoreboards with a dead-on 11.164 on his 11.16 dial.
Congratulations to Brian Johnson on his first national event win!