Canandaigua, NY – April 6, 2013 – Tom Skibinski, Canandaigua Motorsports Park PR (585-350-8997)
The 50thAnniversary Season of auto racing at Canandaigua Motorsports Park began the same way it did eight times in the past, with open-wheel veteran Alan Johnson kicking off the 2013 campaign on Saturday evening with a dramatic victory in the 3rdAnnual Jan Corcoran Memorial presented by Empire/Seneca Recycling.
With young racer Larry Wight leading 47 of the 64-lap distance and looking to become the 96thModified winner since the inaugural event in 1953, it was Johnson instead taking over for the final nine circuits to extend his all-time track mark to 117 Big-Block victories after a late race rally netted the Middlesex driver and car owner Kenny Saya the $6,400 top prize.
The night was just as memorable for two-time defending division points champion Mike Welch as he scored a landmark 50thwin in the Parts Plus Street Stock feature while former Sportsman driver Rick Miller (BRP/Crate Late Model) claimed his first CMP checkered flag to close out the Corcoran Memorial card honoring the mother of track promoter Jeremie Corcoran for a third straight season.
“Its always special to win a memorial race, especially when its Jeremie's mom,” remarked Johnson, whose own father Milt passed away in December and son in-law Ryan Baye lost his life in a fatal snowmobile accident in February making the win even more meaningful. “Its a little more emotional winning this one, have to thank everybody that's helped out.”
Along with Milt Johnson, Canandaigua's Modified-Sportsman points champion in 1961, the Corcoran Memorial event also recognized the recent passing of long-time speedway supporter Bill Turner, owner of Corvettes by Turner in nearby Victor. The turn four tower will be dedicated to Turner in a special ceremony held May 25.
On the track, Johnson's stirring run to the front brought back more memories for the fairgrounds faithful, patiently working his way forward from his 15thstarting position before wrestling away the lead from Wight in a thrilling three-wide maneuver exiting turn four. The potent black no. 10J Commercial Roofing & Sheetmetal/Bicknell ride was untouchable the rest of the way, opening up a three-quarter straightaway victory margin between Wight and Jimmy Phelps, while reigning track points king Matt Sheppard and Billy Dunn filled out the final front-five.
“It was an awesome car tonight. But when I got toward the middle of the race and was riding around I didn't think I had anything for the guys up front,” noted Johnson, now 55, who captured his initial season-opener in 1976 and followed up in '78, '80, '81, '82, '87, '91 and '02. He debuted in the winner's circle in 1975, and including victories every year until 1997 (high of 12 in '82), 2013 is his 27thseason logging at least one Modified win at the Ontario County oval.