GIBSONTON, Fla. — Wayne Johnson had his Charlie Fisher powered- XXX chassis dialed in to perfection and his driving skills were never sharper than Saturday night when he started on pole and left his competition chasing him for 40 laps.
The occasion was the 13th annual Ronald Laney Memorial at East Bay Raceway Park where Johnson put an exclamation point to the 38th Winternationals standing in victory lane with his $10,000 check and wearing the crown for being “King of the 360’s” for the second time in four years.
His repeat win in the race was an emotional time for Johnson, because he counted Ronald as a good friend for many years and misses him a lot.
“Even though the track was different tonight from last night when I won, we made very few changes to the car and the only trouble I had was on the last restart when my tire was going down and I had to keep the heat in it to build up the pressure,” Johnson said. “My crew Daryl Turfurd and Conner Nelson had the car really nice and Scott Billish is back on board as a sponsor after being away for four years. Brad Benic builds Momentum Shocks while Russell Swartz proved the ‘Outlaw Wings’ that we run are not junk.”
With Johnson and Bryan Sebetto in the front row and Rico Abreu inside Parker Price-Miller in the next row and a pair of Danny’s Wood and Lasoski making up row three, the red flag halted everything on lap two when Lou Kennedy got upside down on the back stretch, but was able to walk away from his car.
Abreu was in hot pursuit trying inside and outside moves to get by Johnson when they came upon lapped traffic on lap eight, but when the leader chose the high groove to maneuver through, so did Abreu.
By the halfway mark, the front two-some had put three lapped cars between themselves and third place runner Price-Miller. Seven laps later that margin increased to four lapped cars when the yellow came out for a blown engine on Danny Martin’s machine in turn four.
Abreu was a serious threat the entire race, but especially on the last restart on lap 33 when Johnson noticed his loss of tire pressure.
“I tried to drag race him into turn one and I had my wing back pretty far,” Abreu said.
His Shaver-powered machine pulled inside Johnson, but the leader was relentless in his pursue of this win and mustered ahead by the time the two were halfway between turns one and two.
Johnson beat Abreu to the checkered flag by .624 seconds.
Eleventh-starting Terry McCarl came on late to finish third and admitted in his interview that this was the best track in Florida because it had a top, a middle and a bottom groove.
Jason Sides finished fourth followed by David Gravel, Christopher Bell, Jac Haudenschild, Greg Hodnett, Danny Smith and Danny Lasoski.
Wayne Johnson, Rico Abreu, Terry McCarl, Jason Sides, David Gravel, Christopher Bell, Jac Haudenschild, Greg Hodnett, Danny Smith, Danny Lasoski, Bryan Sebetoo, Danny Wood, Parker Price-Miller, Etienne Girard, Greg Wilson, Thomas Kennedy, Russ Hall, Danny Martin Jr., Chad Kemenah, Lou Kennedy.