By Bill W
August 5, 2015 – Wayne Johnson proved last Saturday night at Knoxville, when he charged from twelfth to the lead, that he is ready for the upcoming 360 Nationals. Misfortune also struck at I-80 Speedway near Greenwood, Nebraska last Thursday, but he bounced back for a fourth place finish there Friday. Wayne, who celebrates his birthday today, will qualify his #77x on Friday as he begins the 360 Nationals.
I-80 Speedway’s “Road to Knoxville” started Thursday when Wayne went from seventh to fourth in his heat. “The car was good in the heat,” he says. “We got what we could out of it. That put us in a tie for the last redraw spot. I wish if there was a tie, they’d involve everyone in the redraw.”
Starting ninth in the feature, he moved his way forward until he was battling with the eventual winner. “We were able to get up to (Ian) Madsen and we were trying to make a move on him,” says Wayne. “We had a big run on him on the back straightway and dove under him. His car was kind of blocked by (Kyle) Bellm. By the time he saw Bellm, he jammed on the brakes. I did the same, but I had a big run. I climbed up over his left rear and flipped it.”
After extensive repairs in the work area, Wayne was able to rejoin the field. “We were able to get it back together and we finished 13th,” he says. “I have to thank the Matt Wood Racing team, Bryan Gossel and everyone else who helped us.”
He would begin Friday’s finale by winning his heat and qualifying for the redraw. He would start the feature inside row three. “The car was good,” says Wayne. “We didn’t change a whole lot from Thursday. The racetrack was kind of one-lane around the bottom, so it was hard to pass. We chased Madsen for half the race before we got by him. Once we got by him, I felt like I was making gains on the guys on the front. We had a restart with about five to go. I made the wrong decision and ended up running fourth. I think we had a better car than that, but some nights are like that.”
Wayne would qualify a disappointing 14th quick on Saturday at Knoxville, but he roared back to take his heat race. “We’ve been working on this thing a lot lately,” he says. “More than anything, we’ve figured out our motors. We have two of them, and they both make good power. They just race different. I was using the one that I like at Knoxville, and the one that gives me confidence.”
Starting twelfth in the feature, he steadily made his way forward in the non-stop feature. After taking the lead with two to go, his left rear tire blew on the white flag lap. “Our car was good,” says Wayne. “I felt we were able to drive through there fairly well. Once we cleared (Justin) Henderson, we were rolling. As soon as we cleared him, it’s like we turned the wick up. Those guys up front were no slouches though. They all have good stuff.”
Wayne is feeling good about his chances at grabbing a third 360 Nationals title. “I feel pretty confident heading in,” he says. “We need a good draw and everything. We can’t qualify fourteenth like we did Saturday and expect to run through there with everyone that’s going to be here. We’ll be o.k. if that racetrack gets wide.”
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Wayne’s Fast Facts
Wayne has run fourteen 360 Nationals, set one quick time, won six heats, and made thirteen preliminary features, winning four of them. He has twelve championship event starts, with ten top tens, six top fives and two wins (2000, 2008).
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Wayne Johnson Racing would like to thank partners, Todd Carlile, Townline Variety, Outlaw Wings, City Vending, Stone Mountain Access Systems and product sponsors The Oil Medics, Sebastian Sandblasting & Powdercoating, Rod End Supply, Astro Titanium, Schoenfeld Headers, Simpson, Butlerbuilt, Xtreme Accu-Tach, Weld Wheels, Slade Shocks, Kustom Sprint Car, Fisher Racing Engines, Team Achieve, Speedway Graphics and Canyon Apparel.