By Bill W
June 22, 2011 – A great relief was felt last Friday night, when Wayne Johnson won his first feature since his leg injury almost eleven months ago. Despite having the fastest car on some nights this year, Wayne and the BDS Motorsports #38 team had failed to find Victory Lane. They did so at the US36 Raceway, where the Knoxville, Iowa driver picked up his third Bud Shootout title at the facility. Wayne was fast at Knoxville Raceway on Saturday too, as he dominated the 410 feature until an oil filter blew off.
Starting outside of row three in his heat, Wayne qualified for the redraw with a third place finish at Cameron in an event sanctioned by the ASCS-Midwest/Warriors groups. The redraw went well for once. “Luckily, the wife (Erin) came down out of the stands, and we drew the front row,” he says. “The car was really good. We’d been struggling since our Knoxville crash, and we made a couple of changes that made all the difference in the world.”
The high-banked quarter-mile had slicked a bit, but was still plenty fast, and Wayne took off from the green flag. “I could go top to bottom,” he says. “You had to do what you could to get around the lap cars because it was definitely hard to pass. We were able to drive anywhere, and that got us through there. Bryan (Sumby) did a great job setting up the car.”
Jack Dover was making his way towards the front and followed Wayne into heavy lapped traffic. “I knew I needed to set a rapid pace,” says Wayne. “I couldn’t hear him, but I could feel him. I was trying to shake him, and I think I got away from him. I had a hard time clearing one of the lap cars, and I felt him again.”
There were some tense moments late in the race when Wayne made contact with a lapped car. “On the white flag, I was trying to hit my spots, and wouldn’t you know, there was a car sideways at the flag stand,” he relates. “I was really lucky to get through there without problems. We bent the heck out of the right front wheel. We dodged that bullet. Luckily, we had a big enough lead and held Jack off.”
The win did more for Wayne mentally than anything. “The confidence really went up there,” he says. “We had struggled and been fast…we just hadn’t finished with a win. I’m getting in better and better shape, and everything just finally fell in place. Mentally, it was huge.”
It was on to Knoxville on Saturday to compete in the 410 class. “I have to thank Vern Rengen for sponsoring our 410 motor,” says Wayne. “Without him, we wouldn’t be able to run a 410 at all. We had a great racecar at Knoxville. In hot laps, we had the fastest car out there. I missed one whole corner and we were still fifth quick, so I knew we were pretty darn good.”
Starting fifth in the heat, Wayne did what he had to do and qualified for the feature with a third place run. “We went out in the heat, and it was hard to pass a little bit,” he says. “We ended up third. The car was just working really well.”
The first try at green resulted in a start that was going to be called back. There was a melee in turn one that claimed a few cars. Doug Clark paid Wayne a visit, believing that he had jumped. “I went back and looked at the video,” says Wayne. “(Terry) McCarl started up and I went with him. You can only anticipate the guy in front of you. I just got on it, and then he got on the brakes. I kept it going, because I didn’t want to get freight-trained from behind. After looking at it, I saw I jumped, but there were a lot more cars doing it too.”
The horsepower supplied by Parker Engines has had Wayne taking off quickly all year long. “Al Parker really has these motors taking off so well on the starts,” he says. “We’ve been that way all year long. I’m not going to change what I’m doing. After watching the videos all year long, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
The next try at green was clean, but it didn’t really matter. Wayne had the best car on the track. “I was able to get a good run through the middle heading into turn one,” he says of his passes into the top four from row four by lap two. “We were just missing something after that crash a month ago, but we are back onto it. My confidence is back up.”
A restart on lap eight saw Wayne restart in fourth. After two laps, he had moved into the lead. “The thing was so perfect, I was riding around there and I could hear everything,” he says. “I could hear the wheel nut getting loose if I needed to. Nothing was going wrong. I came off of four, and my shield covered up with oil.”
The incident happened on lap 21. “I thought it may be the power steering line, and I was hoping I could hold on for four more laps,” says Wayne. “As soon as I thought that, ‘Boom!’ a big ball of fire. I knew it wasn’t the motor. Actually, I thought it blew an oil line off.”
It was a different kind of “home cooking”. “It got warm,” he says. “It was like being in an oven. The timer went bing, ‘cause she was done! I pulled down into one close to the fire crew.”
Even though they think there was no damage to the motor, the team is taking no chances. Meanwhile, they are looking at options and deals to race this weekend. They would like to run at the 410 special in Jackson, Minnesota. “We’d love to go to the Big Game race and support that deal,” says Wayne. “There just aren’t any other races that pay that kind of purse. We had to send it in as a precaution. When they are $45,000, there’s no sense taking a chance, so we sent it back to Shaver.”
The BDS Motorsports team would also like to welcome new marketing partner, RJR Components on board. “We’d like to welcome on RJR Components,” says Wayne. “They are providing us with some sprint car components. RJ Johnson is starting up the company and working out of Newton, Iowa.”
Big Sale on T-Shirts!
Wayne Johnson Racing has a variety of 2010 apparel and it is ALL on sale! $10 for t-shirts, hats, women and kids’ shirts and more! E-mail WayneJohnsonRacing@yahoo.com to place your order!
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!
Al Young asks: How will you feel about returning to the Northwest after you were injured there?
Wayne answers: Actually, I’m fired up and excited! More than anything, I’m going with a car that is more familiar. In the Main (#35) car…I just drove it a handful of times all out on the West Coast. We’re running a lot of tracks I’ve been to and the car is really fast. I don’t feel like I’ve shown what kind of driver I am out there, so I’m really excited to get started. I have a little bit to prove. I drove the #18 car out there a couple years ago and I think we had the Fred Brownfield (Grays Harbor Raceway) won until the driveshaft blew out. I really want to win that race, not only because it is a big race, but because it’s where I was hurt. I’m not nervous. I’ve wrecked at a lot of tracks. You just have to get back on that bull and ride!
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 won the prelim at the Jackson Nationals in 2008 in impressive fashion. He moved up quickly after starting 18th in the field, and made a late race pass of Billy Alley for the win. Jake Peters was second, followed by Alley, Gregg Bakker and Travis Whitney.
“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!
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Wayne would like to thank the following for making this possible: BDS Motorsports, Parker Machine, Champion Oil, BMRS Brown and Miller Racing Solutions, Max Muscle, Butlerbuilt, Hinchman, Schoenfeld Headers, Super Shox, Hoosier Racing Midwest, Rod End Supply, Fuel Safe, Simpson, Conroy Pneu Controls, KSE, Maxim Chassis, RJR Components, Kinsler Fuel Injection, Astro Titanium, ITI Lubricants, DMI, Laser Carwash and Speedway Motors.