From Bill Wright
January 18, 2017 – It had been four years since Wayne Johnson and Wayne Simmons had hooked up for the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Raceway in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City veteran fared pretty well despite the layoff. He registered a top ten finish on Friday night, before being sidelined with mechanical gremlins in Saturday’s B main.
Things started well for Wayne in the heat Friday. “We started fifth and ran third,” he says. “We ran the bottom there. We were able to get up to second, but a caution came out and he had to go back into third. That’s where we finished.”
He would finish one spot out of the Qualifier invert, gridding him seventh in the field. “The Qualifier went really well,” says Wayne. “It was really stacked, but I was able to drive right by those guys on the bottom. It was a really good run and got us up there close to the front for the feature (starting fourth).”
Wayne had a rough start. “Up to that point in the night, I hadn’t made one lap on the top,” he says. “I didn’t know how to do it really. I tiptoed around a little bit and fell back. To be honest, an early caution saved me. I was in fourth at that point.”
He stuck to the bottom groove. “On the restart, everyone was on the bottom,” says Wayne. “I stayed down there, and stayed down there way too long. Finally, with about ten laps to go, I got the nuts to head back up top and let it rip. I actually ran some of those guys back down up there. I wish I’d just done it sooner.”
Wayne would checker tenth, putting him inside row seven for one of Saturday’s B mains. “Something was wrong in the ignition,” he says. “I went to the work area. They unplugged some things and plugged them back in. We went back out. It started, but after five or six laps, it quit again.”
The first 2017 action for Wayne and the Two-C Racing #2c sprint car team will be February’s Ronald Lane Memorial “King of the 360’s” at East Bay Raceway Park near Tampa, Florida. “We’re planning on getting down there and running East Bay,” he says. “That’s always been a good track for us. It’s great to run that race in honor of the Laney family, and we’ve been fortunate enough to win it a couple times.”