STAFFORD – The calling card for DARE Stock driver Johnny Walker around Stafford Motor Speedway is his familiar wicker hat.
Friday at Stafford, the wicker got to make its first appearance in victory lane.
Walker held off the charges of Jeremy Lavoie over the closing laps to win the 15-lap DARE Stock feature Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway.
It was the first career victory for the Ludlow, Mass. driver. Lavoie, of Windsor Locks, held on for second. Dave Secore Jr. of Union was third.
It proved the perfect gift for Walker to give to his mother, Patty Deslauriers, who was celebrating her birthday Friday.
“I can’t tell you how extra special that is,” Walker said. “She’s been behind me every step of the way. When I was younger she thought this was going to be just a passing phase. Six years later I finally get my first win and it couldn’t happen on a better night.”
Walker spent four years competing in Enduro type events at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. before joining the ranks of the DARE Stock division at Stafford in 2012.
Before Friday’s victory he had finished second in the previous two events at Stafford.
“I’ve spent year after year always finishing third,” Walker said. “I had this one car that could not do more than three laps ever. In its third race it broke down on the third lap and it was done after that and ever since I’ve never been able to finish third year after year after year. Now two second places in a row and a first place.
“We still have a little bit more work to do, we’re not dominating, but it feels good to finally be running up front.”
Walker went past Frank L’Etoile for the lead on a lap seven restart and never trailed again, though Lavoie gave him some scares. Lavoie was looking for his third consecutive victory.
“He bumped me a couple times, he got me crossed up once in [turns] three and four and then after that he cooled down,” Walker said. “I’ve got to thank him a lot for racing me clean like that. I love racing with the kid.”
Said Lavoie: “It was good, clean, hard racing. He raced me well, I raced him well.”