Wednesdays with Wayne – 2017 Off and Running!

Wayne Johnson. (Max Dolder Photo)

Wayne Johnson. (Max Dolder Photo)
From Bill Wright

March 1, 2017 – Wayne Johnson and the Two-C Racing #2c team got things started last weekend in Florida at East Bay Raceway Park’s Ronald Laney Memorial “King of the 360’s” near Tampa. The two-time winner of the event was able to notch a top five finish Friday night and qualified for Saturday’s finale. The team heads to Texas to compete with the World of Outlaws this weekend on Friday at Lonestar Speedway near Kilgore and Saturday at Gator Motorplex near Willis.

Wayne felt a bit different in this year’s trip to Tampa. “It was different for me this year at East Bay,” he says. “We’ve won there a few times and normally, we unload well. We unloaded with the same notes we won with there in 2014. We were just off from the get go. The car drove well, it just drove too easy. I wasn’t getting the traction I needed.”

He struggled with handling on the track surface. “They said there was new dirt on it, but it just seemed different,” says Wayne. “There were hills and holes in different spots. It was smooth to drive on, but it seemed there was a lot of up and down. The car was loading and unloading all the way around. It was just different than the previous times we’ve been there.”

In Thursday’s prelim, he fought through the B amongst 63 competitors and drove from 22nd to 15th. Friday, he drove from fourth to second in the heat. “We had a really good heat on Friday, and that got us in the redraw,” says Wayne. “We drew a six for the feature and ran fifth. It was rubber-down most of the way, so there wasn’t much moving around.”

With the top six in points from Thursday and Friday locked into Saturday’s finale, Wayne just missed it. “We were seventh in points, which was one spot out of a lock-in spot,” he says. “That puts you on the pole of the first heat. The bottom was greasy in the first heat and (Greg) Hodnett got the jump on me. We ran second and that put us in the B.”

He would win the B main from outside row one, locking himself into the finale. “That put us starting 14th instead of seventh, so the heat race really made a difference for us start-wise,” says Wayne. “Honestly, we made some wrong adjustments. We fell back to 16th or so. The next thing you know, we were lapped, and I pulled it in for another day.”

Wayne says the car got better throughout the weekend. “Overall, our car just wasn’t as good as it needed to be to get a win there,” he says. “But we kept working on it, and got it better and better. We’re not going to make excuses, we were just a step behind all weekend. When you’re a step behind with that great a field, you get the results we had.”

He has had his share of success in Florida over the years. “I’ve always learned that whatever you do in Florida, you leave it down there, good or bad,” says Wayne. “If you’re really fast there, and you think you’re going to be when you get home, you’re usually wrong. It’s just a different animal. You can’t come back and think you need to change your program when things don’t go perfect.”

Wayne has the advantage of racing at Lonestar Speedway in the past. “I’ve been able to win at Kilgore since they went to the 3/8-mile configuration,” he says. “We’ll be able to get a few laps on it for Friday, so we’re looking forward to it. I’ve never been to Gator, so we’ll see how that goes as well.”