It turned out to unofficially be Family Night on Saturday at Route 66 Speedway, at least when it came to action on the track.
While there were no special classes or themes for the fans gathered for weekly racing action, there were some familiar names at the top of some of the five classes who ran. That’s to say, a couple of drivers who shared last names battled each other for a spot in the winner’s circle.
The biggest winner by any measure was Jimmy Johnson in the street stocks. Johnson held off a charge by his brother Michael and Josh Barnette, winner in the previous street stocks race at Route 66, to pick up his second victory of the season.
Not only did Jimmy Johnson join Michael as the only two-time winner in the class this season so far at the track, he leapfrogged into a tie for the season series lead with 316 points, knotted with fellow Amarillo driver Carson Spitler for the lead.
Jimmy Johnson took the lead about halfway through and never relinquished it in moving into a tie for the season points lead.
“I knew everybody was running the bottom and I saw there was a little something at the top so I got up at the top and got the lead and I saw (Barnette) pull down beside me back at the bottom and I knew I needed to get back down there,” Johnson said. “I got where I needed to be and that was the place to be.”
Barnette and Michael Johnson pushed Jimmy Johnson for the last eight laps of the 20-lap race on the third-mile dirt oval, which wasn’t a big surprise since they’ve been winners in the last three races. All three are in the top five in the season points standings.
The Johnson brothers are veteran drivers, and Jimmy knows that no matter what little brother Michael is going to be close to him on the track.
“We actually make each other better,” Jimmy Johnson said. “He ran late models last several years and I was in sport mod and am now back in stock cars. This is the first year we’ve run together in four or five years. It makes us both better drivers because we’re competing against each other.”
Saturday’s race only cemented the street stocks reputation as the most competitive class at the track this season. Only 20 points separate the top points scorer from sixth place as the season moves past the halfway point.
While being tied for the season series lead is nice, Jimmy Johnson doesn’t feel like he or anybody else is the favorite to win for the rest of the season.
“There are probably about six or seven of us who can win on any night,” Johnson said. “I’m the oldest of the bunch at 58. I still can show them something every once in awhile.”
The modified class featured a family theme in the top two finishers, but there was more of a generational difference. Amarillo’s A.J. Sharpensteen scored his first victory of the season, holding off his father Alan, who finished second.
However, Alan still held the season points lead with 263 points, 24 points ahead of Ethan Crawford, who was actually chasing A.J. for the lead until suffering a wreck late in the race.
Other winners were Borger’s Michael Hilton in the late models, Amarillo’s Brock Hall in the limited modifieds and Panhandle’s Kylee Kowalewski in the tuners. Hall and Kowalewski both scored their second wins of the season at Route 66.
Next week at Route 66 will be feature rare back-to-back nights of racing. Friday night, the Powri 360 sprint cars will make an appearance, along with the late models and tuners. Saturday, the sprints will return along with the limited modifieds and street stocks.