Johnny VanDoorn has become one of the Champion Racing Association’s most accomplished drivers in its long history. The Nunica, Michigan native has won 21 ARCA/CRA Super Series and three series championships, tied with Scott Hantz for the most all-time. However, there was one feat that had eluded him for years: a win on the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour.
VanDoorn crossed that off his list Saturday as he dominated the season-opening Dixie 100 at Birch Run Speedway just north of Flint. He took the lead on a lap 26 restart and never looked back for the remainder of the race for his first series victory.
“Had a heck of a car tonight, you just don’t get too many of them like this,” VanDoorn told Speed51. “We brought a whole new package here. Butch (VanDoorn) and I are always R&Ding new setups for our business and trying stuff. We’ve been hitting on stuff the last few races last year and the beginning of this year at Nashville, I felt like we were hitting on some stuff. The car was real good. You don’t get too many of them like that a year, so hopefully it isn’t the last time.”
VanDoorn’s win comes just one year after bad luck ended his day in the Dixie 100 early. He said it was special to come back after a forgetful day to win in dominating fashion.
“Last year, we had the pole for both races. The first one, we wrecked three times in twenty laps and not a whole lot of our doing. It’s just racing, you can’t control that. To be able to come do it and seal the deal and have a dominating performance, it just makes it that much more special.
Steve Dorer and Brian Campbell raced for second throughout much of the first half of the Dixie 100. However, they collided just after a restart around the halfway point and both drivers were sent to the rear of the field. Both were able to work their way back into the top five by the end of the race, but neither driver was happy with each other.
Dorer took responsibility for the contact that caused the caution, but acknowledged his disdain for how Campbell raced him during the previous run.
“I’m not sure what he was doing, I guess he thought I was his other four tires to turn,” Dorer said about the incident. “But down there when I got into him, that was a complete accident. I don’t know if he lifted early or I just got in over my head or whatever, but it was unfortunate for him and unfortunate for me. He appeared to want to have a bad night tonight, so it worked out for him I guess.”
Meanwhile, Campbell did not mince words when asked about the incident with Dorer.
“He’s just an idiot. And when you run with idiots, that’s what you get,” Campbell said. “I’ll try not to run with idiots anymore, but what are you going to do? I was up on the outside of Johnny when Johnny was trying to race the idiot and he was getting all squirreled around too, and we were ready to go around them both. We looked forward to racing John the whole time here, and we never really got that opportunity.”
While VanDoorn ran away with the race and Dorer and Campbell tangled, ARCA/CRA Super Series regular Hunter Jack finished a career-best second, followed by former series champion and Birch Run’s own Dan Leeck. Dorer and Campbell completed the top five.
For VanDoorn, the win was a long-awaited one for the three-time ARCA/CRA Super Series champion. While he owns 21 wins in the Super Series, it was the first time he went to victory lane with the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour. Being able to finally accomplish that feat at one of his favorite tracks was big for him.
“I’ve won a lot of races in the Super Series, but I’ve never won in the JEGS Series,” he said. “You’d think it would be like coming down from the Cup Series to the Xfinity Series, you should be able to go win. We’ve always had good cars, but just poor luck or something. Stupid stuff, mistakes I’ve made, I’ve never been able to win. So to finally get one, especially at Dixie. This has always been one of my favorite tracks. I’ve been coming here since ’05, so to get it at Dixie is pretty special as well.”
Meanwhile, it was a historic night for the Champion Racing Association, as they hosted their first-ever CRA Junior Late Model race. Twelve-year-old Luke Wilhelm won the inaugural Junior Late Model feature over 14-year-old Chase Burda and 11-year-old Katie Hettinger. Their next race will be at Anderson Speedway on June 15.
The next stop for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour will be at Bristol Motor Speedway for the 3rd Annual U.S. Short Track Nationals on June 1.
The Speed51 Network will have video highlights of Saturday’s race at Birch Run posted in the coming days.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com