Cajun is Ragin’ in World of Outlaws Season Opener

The Wheatley Chronicles – Volume V, No. 3

Lonnie Wheatley, BARBERVILLE, Fla. (February 17, 2017) – Jason Johnson’s 2017 Sprint Car season began in a mangled heap in turn two just a couple of nights earlier in the opening leg of Volusia Speedway Park’s DIRTcar Winter Nationals.

“The Ragin’ Cajun” bounced back in the best fashion possible by wiring the field to win Friday night’s 30-lap season-opening World of Outlaws feature event atop the ½-mile Volusia Speedway Park clay oval.

Johnson gunned into the lead from the front row outside at the drop of the green flag and then weathered three cautions in the opening dozen rounds before sailing on to the $10,000 triumph aboard the JJR/Marshall Racing Priority Aviation/Mesilla Valley Trucking No. 41 Sprint Car.

“Last year we started with a  worst-case scenario losing an engine early and being in the ‘B’, this year is starting best-case scenario,” the Eunice, LA, native said in victory lane.  “It comes and it goes.  It’s a long season, you have to be conditioned and prepared for whatever comes.”

After chasing Christopher Bell to the stripe in the Dash, Johnson had one close call in the feature as he brushed the wall exiting turn four on the 11th lap just moments before reigning series champ Donny Schatz stopped in turn two with a cut left front tire.

The brush with the wall left Johnson no worse for the wear, as the reigning Knoxville Nationals champion set a torrid pace the rest of the way around the top side of the fast oval to secure the win.

“These guys work their tails off all year and all during the winter,” Johnson said of rebounding from the wild Wednesday night crash.  “Everyone on this team shares a common vision and goals.  We wanted to come home with a Gator and we got one.”

After winning two of three WoO features at last year’s DIRTcar Winter Nationals, Brad Sweet emerged from a wild battle for position to take runner-up honors.

“Who would have thought he (Johnson) could run that hard up top for 30 laps and make it last, hats off to him,” Sweet said.

Sweet felt the KKR NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 had a shot early in the going.  “Early on I thought we had something for Jason, but then I kind of lost my line down low when a puddle splashed up so I had to move it up top.”

After drifting back a handful of positions from his pole starting position, Bell surged back up to third in the closing laps aboard Tony Stewart’s No. 14.  “We really struggled on the starts and restarts, it was under the green flag runs that we really got going.”

After running second much of the way, Brian Brown settled for fourth at the stripe with Daryn Pittman rounding out the top five.

(World of Outlaws photo)

The Vitals

Series:  World of Outlaws

Track:  Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Car Count:  36

Quick Time:  The track picked up as qualifying proceeded, with Christopher Bell (21st to take time) establishing the quick time of 13.121 seconds, equivalent to an average speed of 116.607 mph.

Qualifying Moments:  Kerry Madsen and Ian Madsen both slowed on their second qualifying laps while Gravel stopped after both laps with engine problems; Slated to come out 16th, Reutzel took one lap at the end after driveline problems in hot laps.

Heat Winners (starting position in parentheses):  Brad Sweet (2), Ian Madsen (2), Jason Johnson (1), Jason Sides (1). 

Heat Moments:  Gravel lost power while leading six laps into the second heat race, setting up the team’s second engine change of the night following a change after qualifying; Henderson spun exiting turn two on the opening lap of the third heat; Asphalt ace Jacob Wilson unsuccessfully tested the turn three cushion on the opening round of the fourth heat and went end-over-end, and ending his night early. 

Dash Winner (starting position in parentheses):  Christopher Bell (2).

“B” Main Winner (starting position in parentheses):  Shane Stewart (4).

“B” Main Moments:  Stewart battled past Gravel upon the completion of the seventh lap, moment before the lapped car of Clyde Knipp looped it in turn two and collected third-runner Terry McCarl; McCarl was done with front end damage.

“A” Main Cautions:  Three

3 Laps – Lucas Wolfe bounces to a stop at the top of turn one with a broken left rear wheel.  Shane Stewart pulls to the pit area with steering woes that prove to be unfixable.

11 Laps – Donny Schatz stops at the bottom of turn two with a flat left front tire.

12 Laps – Greg Hodnett stops in turn four with left rear shock issues.

“A” Main Hard Charger:  Reigning All Star champ Chad Kemenah continued his strong DIRTcar Nationals performance by rallying from 20th to claim seventh at the line.

The Box Score…

Qualifying: 1. 14-Christopher Bell 13.121, 2. 5-David Gravel 13.126, 3. 41-Jason Johnson 13.161, 4. 7s-Jason Sides 13.223, 5. 49-Brad Sweet 13.247, 6. 18-Ian Madsen 13.262, 7. 1s-Logan Schuchart 13.296, 8. 9-Daryn Pittman 13.298, 9. 24r-Rico Abreu 13.306, 10. 5w-Lucas Wolfe 13.312, 11. 19-Brent Marks 13.314, 12. 10h-Chad Kemenah 13.318, 13. 49x-Tim Shaffer 13.340, 14. 21-Brian Brown 13.345, 15. 13JT-Mark Dobmeier 13.352, 16. 27-Greg Hodnett 13.395, 17. 11k-Kraig Kinser 13.413, 18. 2m-Kerry Madsen 13.431, 19. 13d-Danny Dietrich 13.446, 20. 2-Shane Stewart 13.448, 21. 1-Dale Blaney 13.460, 22. 4-Paul McMahan 13.464, 23. 17-Joey Saldana 13.501, 24. 15-Donny Schatz 13.510, 25. 24-Terry McCarl 13.521, 26. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild 13.537, 27. 87-Aaron Reutzel 13.555, 28. 1a-Jacob Allen 13.573, 29. W20-Greg Wilson 13.590, 30. 17x-Caleb Helms 13.610, 31. 59h-Justin Henderson 13.691, 32. 7w-Tasker Phillips 13.774, 33. 13-Clyde Knipp 13.891, 34. 59s-Ben Schmidt 13.915, 35. 2x-Parker Price-Miller 13.916, 36. 07-Jacob Wilson 14.016.

Heat One (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to “A” Feature):  1. 49-Brad Sweet (2), 2. 14-Christopher Bell (1), 3. 49x-Tim Shaffer (4), 4. 24r-Rico Abreu (3), 5. 11k-Kraig Kinser (5), 6. W20-Greg Wilson (8), 7. 1-Dale Blaney (6), 8. 24-Terry McCarl (7), 9. 13-Clyde Knipp (9).

Heat Two (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to “A” Feature):  1. 18-Ian Madsen (2), 2. 21-Brian Brown (4), 3. 4-Paul McMahan (6), 4. 2m-Kerry Madsen (5), 5. 5w-Lucas Wolfe (3), 6. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild (7), 7. 17x-Caleb Helms (8), 8. 59s-Ben Schmidt (9), 9. 5-David Gravel (1).

Heat Three (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to “A” Feature):  1. 41-Jason Johnson (1), 2. 19-Brent Marks (2), 3. 13JT-Mark Dobmeier (3), 4. 17-Joey Saldana (5), 5. 87-Aaron Reutzel (6), 6. 59h-Justin Henderson (7), 7. 13d-Danny Dietrich (4), 8. 2x-Parker Price-Miller (8). DNS: 1s-Logan Schuchart.

Heat Four (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to “A” Feature):  1. 7s-Jason Sides (1), 2. 9-Daryn Pittman (2), 3. 27-Greg Hodnett (4), 4. 15-Donny Schatz (6), 5. 10h-Chad Kemenah (3), 6. 2-Shane Stewart (5), 7. 7w-Tasker Phillips (8), 8. 1a-Jacob Allen (7), 9. 07-Jacob Wilson (9).

Dash (6 Laps):  1. 14-Christopher Bell (2), 2. 41-Jason Johnson (4), 3. 21-Brian Brown (3), 4. 7s-Jason Sides (3), 5. 49-Brad Sweet (6), 6. 18-Ian Madsen (5), 7. 9-Daryn Pittman (8), 8. 19-Brent Marks (7).

“B” Feature (12 Laps – Top 4 finishers transfer to “A” Feature):  1. 2-Shane Stewart (4), 2. 5-David Gravel (1), 3. 13d-Danny Dietrich (3), 4. 1-Dale Blaney (5), 5. 59h-Justin Henderson (11), 6. 17x-Caleb Helms (10), 7. W20-Greg Wilson (9), 8. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild (7), 9. 59s-Ben Schmidt (14), 10. 1a-Jacob Allen (8), 11. 2x-Parker Price-Miller (15), 12. 7w-Tasker Phillips (12), 13. 24-Terry McCarl (6), 14. 13-Clyde Knipp (13), 15. 1s-Logan Schuchart (2). DNS: 07-Jacob Wilson.

“A” Feature (30 Laps):  1. 41-Jason Johnson (2), 2. 49-Brad Sweet (5), 3. 14-Christopher Bell (1), 4. 21-Brian Brown (3), 5. 9-Daryn Pittman (7), 6. 49x-Tim Shaffer (9), 7. 10h-Chad Kemenah (20), 8. 24r-Rico Abreu (13), 9. 2m-Kerry Madsen (14), 10. 18-Ian Madsen (6), 11. 13JT-Mark Dobmeier (11), 12. 17-Joey Saldana (15), 13. 1-Dale Blaney (24), 14. 15-Donny Schatz (16), 15. 11k-Kraig Kinser (17), 16. 19-Brent Marks (8), 17. 13d-Danny Dietrich (23), 18. 4-Paul McMahan (10), 19. 87-Aaron Reutzel (19), 20. 5w-Lucas Wolfe (18), 21. 7s-Jason Sides (4), 22. 27-Greg Hodnett (12), 23. 2-Shane Stewart (21), 24. 1a-Jacob Allen (25), 25. 5-David Gravel (22). Note: 1a-Jacob Allen utilized a provisional to start the main event.

Lap Leaders: Jason Johnson 1-30.


The Wheatley Chronicles brings insight and highlights from all variety of racing series throughout the nation in 2017 and beyond along with the Open Wheel Power Rankings on a regular basis.  Please send any comments, questions or advertising inquiries regarding The Wheatley Chronicles at to Lonnie Wheatley at