Tony Johnson of Cumberland County came to Rockingham for a weekend of fun surrounding the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the Rock, but his good luck with the lottery gave him his own big moment at the race Sunday.
Johnson, a maintenance mechanic from Stedman, got lucky on Friday while visiting the Education Lottery’s booth at THUNDERFEST in Rockingham. He purchased $14 in lottery tickets, won $42 in prizes, and then had his name drawn to be honorary starter.
“I’m the luckiest person this weekend,” Johnson said as he got the chance to visit the garage area of Rockingham Speedway.
Johnson was the first person to shake each driver’s hand as drivers were introduced to fans before the race, including Kyle Larson, who later won the race. The race is part of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race.
“It was great," Johnson said. "It's an experience of a lifetime. And it does get windy up there. When you have 36 or 39 trucks going by, it does get windy. But I had a blast up there."
His good luck led to Johnson getting free tickets to the NASCAR race, a $200 gift card, plus access to infield areas that many NASCAR fans never see. During the tour of the garage area, he got his NCEL 200 at the Rock T-shirt signed by racers such as Joey Logano and Ty Dillon. And he got the chance to meet one of his favorite drivers, Bill Elliott, or “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville,” as Johnson called the racer.