By Bill W, Robert Kocak photo
November 3, 2010 – The Short Track Nationals were lining up to be a pretty good Little Rock comeback story for Wayne Johnson and his #77x sprint car. He was the high point getter heading into Saturday’s last Qualifier event. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and a DNF sidelined him and sent him to the pay window in the same boat as 104 other cars that didn’t make the cut. This weekend, he will drive for Miles Hill with the World of Outlaws at the Lowe’s Dirt Track in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Wayne used a Wednesday practice session to make sure everything was set with the throttle and his healing lower leg. “We were pretty good right out of the box,” he says. “We didn’t know how the leg was going to be, but it was good in practice on Wednesday. We had to change some throttle springs, but really and truly, I’m not having any trouble with the throttle. It feels really good.”
He surged from sixth to second in his heat race, tallying the second highest point total heading into the 55-car field Qualifiers. “We went back with the exact same setups that we had last year (when he won a prelim and finished second in the final) and we were fast right out of the box,” says Wayne.
The invert was six for the Qualifiers and Wayne worked through it to win and put himself outside of row one for the feature. “Our Maxim was really rolling the corners well,” he says. “It was just working well. The first night really went off without a hitch until the driver made a mistake on the first lap of the feature.”
That mistake came in turn two on the first lap. He would lose several spots and finish sixth at the checkers. “We didn’t get the car tight enough first of all,” says Wayne. “Then I charged in there knowing I needed to lead the first lap, because it was going to be a one-lane racetrack. I was doing everything I could, but I slipped over the top there in two. The car was so good in the heat and qualifier that I didn’t want to make too many changes. We tightened it up a bit, but not nearly enough.”
A complete redraw greeted the drivers on Saturday. Wayne had a good point total going in (second overall), and his heat would be worth double points. Then a driver had to finish in the top two in one of seven Qualifiers. “That’s the only bad thing about this format,” he says. “You have to race so much to get points, but when it comes down to it, it’s all on that one race. They’re going to have to look at it, or they won’t be seeing me back there.
Wayne ducked into second behind Tim Crawley in the first Qualifier, but Brooke Tatnell was able to get by him early on a rubber-down racetrack. Later in the race, Wayne had a run in turn three and pulled ahead of Tatnell, but the cars made contact going for the same Real Estate and both were done. Tatnell was given a black flag. “I feel we were the most consistent car all week, and it came down to one little stupid incident where you get run over,” he says. “It could have been a flat tire too. Truly, if they were going to run those qualifiers to race in the top two, they could have just started with that and saved their racetrack a bit.”
Wayne’s focus is now on The World Finals. Qualifying for both nights is scheduled for Thursday, with programs being run on Friday and Saturday. “I’m looking forward to going back to Charlotte,” says the Knoxville, Iowa driver. “We haven’t been in a 410 since Knoxville before our injury. It’s always a fun place to race and really fast. We’ll go through everything today (Wednesday) and work on the throttle. We’ll make it as good to drive as we did my car in Little Rock. Sitting out three months sure wants to make you go race.”
Wayne is still looking for a permanent home in a sprint car. If you would like to inquire about a partnership with Wayne, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buy Your Outlaw Wings from Wayne
Wayne is an Outlaw Wings dealer located in the Knoxville, Iowa area. Wayne credits the new Outlaw top wing for his 2009 wins at Little Rock and Cowtown. Contact Wayne for your Outlaw Wing, as he has some special Holiday deals going! Outlaw Wings – “When Downforce Matters”!
To learn more about Wayne and the team, log on to www.WayneJohnsonRacing.com!
Jason Wenger asks: Does being on TV make a big difference to you in choosing where you race?
Wayne answers: Not for me, really. I don’t have any big corporate sponsors that need to be seen on TV. I wish I did! Anybody out there who wants to be on TV…I’m looking! As everyone knows, TV can’t do sprint car racing justice anyway. Tape delay is a better option than live I think.
Got a question for Wayne? Each week, Wayne will answer your questions about “Tech Tips”, or anything that’s on your mind. If you ever wondered what a part on a sprint car is all about, send an e-mail to us at email@example.com, and we may answer it in this section! Put “? for Wayne” in your subject line. He’ll try to keep it clean if you do!
Wayne’s Fast Facts
Wayne last competed at the World Finals at Lowe’s in 2008. He timed 6th in round one, and 21st in round two in Miles Hill’s #77x. After blowing his motor in the prelim, he put in “Old Lucy”, won the B and finished 10th in the feature. In the finale, he drove from 21st to 11th.
“Wednesday’s with Wayne”
“Wednesday’s With Wayne” is an up close look at the past, present and future of colorful and talented sprint car driver Wayne Johnson. You’ll never know what to expect next with Wayne, so don’t miss us on Wednesdays!
To receive “Wednesday’s with Wayne”, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Wayne” in the subject line.
Wayne would like to thank the following for making this possible: E-Rate Complete, Iroquois Poker, Townline Variety, Ohsweken Speedway, Brett Smith Motorsports, FattFro Motorsports, The Oil Medics, Outlaw Wings, Stone Mountain, Butlerbuilt, Hoosier, Schoenfeld Headers and Cooper Racing Enterprises.