By Bill W
March 7, 2012 – The Wayne Johnson Racing #77x will be close to the Mexican border this weekend, as will the Lucas Oil ASCS National Series. The series heads to the Cocoapah Speedway near Yuma, Arizona for racing on Friday and Saturday night. With just one weekend in the books, the Knoxville, Iowa driver has registered a third and fifth place finish and sits fourth in the ASCS standings.
Last weekend’s two-night event at Canyon Speedway Park near Peoria, Arizona was Wayne’s first action of 2012 and he felt the rust a little. “I wasn’t making the greatest decisions and it seemed like things were a little off,” he admits. “I think it has a lot to do with having three months off. Not going ‘Down Under’ or run anywhere and that makes a difference. Physically, I’m feeling great.”
Things couldn’t have started better in Friday’s prelim when Wayne won his heat after starting outside of row two. “I got a really good start and got a jump on those guys,” he says. “We were second by turn two, and it took a couple laps to get the lead. From there we checked out. The racetrack was pretty heavy, so once you got out front, you could pretty much maintain. The bottom was better for us.”
After drawing a starting spot outside row two, Wayne battled his #77x. “We just weren’t the best,” he says. “We were just too free. We just didn’t get the car tight enough. We were just maintaining, until finally I got the wing back and started running the bottom. I was able to get back by a couple of guys, but by that time, Brady (Bacon) was by me.”
He would climb back to third. “It was just one of those deals,” says Wayne. “The car wasn’t great, so I was trying to maintain and drive as well as I could. It worked out at the end that we were third and that locked us in for Saturday.”
Wayne drew the six for Saturday’s main event. “We fell back right away to ninth or twelfth,” he says. “We were a little too tight that night. We just weren’t really in the right spot at the right time. We just kind of rode around there. Finally, the fuel load started burning off, and we rode the top of turns three and four really well, and started making up some ground.”
The last six or seven laps saw Wayne dicing back through the field, ending with fifth at the checkers. “Another lap or two, and I think we had a shot at Tony (Stewart) for fourth,” he says. “We still weren’t great, but we were closer than the night before.”
The new team is learning on the go. “We tried quite a few things last weekend,” says Wayne of the #77x. “I just didn’t feel like I had enough forward drive either night. Finally, we were able to roll the top on Saturday and make some things happen. We’re looking forward to getting to Yuma.”
The Yeley family played host for Wayne this week. “I’d really like to thank Jack and Judy Yeley for using their shop all week,” he says. “They are great people.”
After a bit of sight-seeing at the OK Corral on the way back to Texas this week, Wayne will meet up with the ASCS-Gulf South region on March 16 and 17. “I’m spending a day in Tombstone (Arizona) next week, and then we’ll head to Houston for a couple of regional races,” he says.
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Wayne’s Fast Facts
Wayne’s first win last year came on June 17 at the US36 Raceway near Osborn, Missouri. Wayne has a good history at the high-banked bullring, and it was the first one for him after his foot/leg injury in 2010. On this night, he topped Jack Dover, Bronson Maeschen, Bryan Gossel and Don Droud Jr.
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Wayne Johnson Racing would like to thank Vern Ringen and Missile Motorsports, Sebastian Sandblasting & Powdercoating, City Vending, Outlaw Wings, Team Achieve, The Oil Medics, Century Signs, Smiley’s Racing Products, Hoosier Tire Southwest, Simpson, Butlerbuilt, Super Shox, Maxim, Speedway Motors, Rod End Supply, Schoenfeld Headers and RCM Design.