After dominating the 30+ Pro class at the last two White Brothers Vet World Championships at Glen Helen Raceway, Ryan Hughes' attempt at a third straight win over the weekend, came on the heels of a four-month injury-induced layoff, and even though he refused to use it as an excuse, his usually steadfast endurance seemed to play a factor, as he lost early big leads in both the 25-minute-plus-one-lap motos, thus opening the door for a pair of come-from-behind epic rides by first-year eligible Casey Johnson at this year's race.
Appearing as if he had no chance after a first-lap, first-moto spill, Johnson rode his Yamaha from back-drop status all day long, pulling out a last-lap pass on Honda rider Craig Decker less than 100 yards of the checkered flag for third place in the first moto, then finally catching Hughes' front-running Suzuki late in the second moto, setting up a wild flourish between the two on the final lap. They exchanged the lead four times before Johnson finally edged by for the overall win.
Saturday's 40+ Pro winner Doug Dubach won a similar first-moto clash with Hughes, who made an early breakaway. But with less than three laps to go, Dubach passed him for the moto win.
In the second moto, Dubach was in the hunt at the end but couldn't quite get around the leading duo, Johnson and Hughes.
Overall, it was the most exciting finish in the event's 22-year history.
"Ryan was so aggressive out there, so I had to show him I could be aggressive, too," Johnson said.
"My body is getting to old for this," Hughes said.