Ronnie Johnson is one-for-one.
One week of racing, one trashed race car.
Johnson took one of the wildest rides of his racing career during last Saturday’s modified feature at Fonda Speedway, and although he was banged up and sore for most of the week, he’ll be back behind the wheel tonight when Albany-Saratoga Speedway kicks off its season.
“Today is the first day that I’ve felt normal,” said Johnson Thursday. “That was the hardest I’ve ever been rocked in my life, the most violent ride I’ve ever taken. It was a very frightening wreck.”
Although Johnson tried to play the tough guy and tell everyone he was fine, he finally broke down and saw a doctor on Wednesday, who gave Johnson a clean bill of health after a thorough exam, which included a CAT scan.
“I want to thank my family, friends, pit crew, Mark Kislowski, everyone who put heat on me to go to a doctor,” said Johnson. “I checked out fine, and that’s a big relief.
The car, owned by Carol and Alton Palmer, was terminal, however.
“The car’s done,” said Johnson. “The Teo Pro car did it’s job and protected me, but I flipped so hard, it cracked the crankshaft in the engine.”
Johnson will be running his big block at Fonda Saturday. The Palmer team picked up a new car earlier this week, but hasn’t had a chance to get it together.
“I need to get through the weekend clean so I can work on the new car next week,” said Johnson.
Johnson said he was overwhelmed by the response he received concerning his accident.
“It felt like I won Syracuse,” he said. “I heard from drivers, promoters of other race tracks, crew members of other teams. Everyone was calling or sending messages. It really shows that racing is one big family.
“I really have to give a big thank you to my stepdaughter, Nikki, who helped me get through this and took care of me while my wife, Shelly, was out of town.”
A new face
When Albany-Saratoga kicks off its season tonight, there will be a new face in the sportsman division.
Rocky Warner is going to be running one of his Ray Sefrin-owned, West End Garage-sponsored cars at the historic Malta track on a regular basis this season.
“I believe the more laps you can get, the better you’re going to be,” said Warner. “The only thing I don’t like about Albany-Saratoga is the payoff, but the prestige is there. This is going to be a new challenge.”
Warner already has one career sportsman victory at Malta, on Aug. 3, 2012.
Warner will also be running Saturday nights at Fonda, Sundays at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park and also focusing on the GRIT series.
That’s going to put some pressure on the West End team, as it will be maintaining two cars.
“We’re going to have a short-track car and a big-track car,” said Warner. “But my main focus is going to be at Fonda on Saturdays. If something happens to our Fonda car, we’ll switch over the other car if we have to.”
Although he’s only 32, Warner is one of those drivers who seems to have been around forever.
“I spent so much time in the street class, I didn’t really get noticed until I moved up,” he said.
Around the tracks
Donnie Corellis won last Saturday’s opening-night modified feature at Lebanon Valley Speedway, taking home $3,000. One of the notable DNFs was Ken Tremont Jr., who broke a fan and a water pump during the feature.
We’ve already passed Tax Day and Brett Hearn still hasn’t won a feature. That’s unheard of.
Derrick McGrew is two-for-two in the sportsman division on opening night at Albany-Saratoga since Howie Commander took over the operation of the speedway in 2012. McGrew will be trying to keep the streak alive tonight.
A protest was filed by Warner’s owner against Cody Clark, who won last Saturday’s sportsman feature at Fonda. Clark’s engine was impounded, but an inspection later found that it was a legal 602.