RJ Johnson Strikes Late for another Freedom Tour Triumph
The Wheatley Chronicles – Volume IV, No. 39
Lonnie Wheatley, SAPULPA, Okla. (August 18, 2016) – R.J. Johnson picked off his second USAC Southwest Sprint Car “Freedom Tour” feature win in as many rounds of action with some late race heroics to take Thursday night’s $2,500 winner’s share at Creek County Speedway.
And in the process, Johnson shattered the hopes and dreams of the night for Dennis Gile, who was just three laps away from capturing his first career series triumph after setting the pace for 27 rounds in the 30-lapper.
“Dennis (Gile) did a great job, the restarts were my only real chance to even get back in the race,” Johnson commented after his eighth overall USAC Southwest win of the year aboard Bill Michaels’ Ford-powered Kodiak Products/Beal’s Auto Body No. 77m Sherman-chassis.
After rallying from seventh to win his heat race, Johnson gridded the feature field in sixth as Gile gunned into the lead from the pole position ahead of fellow front row starter Josh Hodges.
And all that ensued simply set the stage for the frantic final laps that had the crowd on its feet.
With Gile out front aboard the Dennis Gile Quarterback Academy No. 13g, Johnson was only fifth when 2015 Creek County “Freedom Tour” winner Blake Hahn did a 360-degree spin in turn two to precipitate a caution after a dozen laps.
Johnson got his elbows up and worked past Koby Barksdale and Shon Deskins to climb to third by the time Andrew Deal spun four laps later and then slid past Hodges for second entering turn three on the lap 17 restart.
Following one final caution for another Hahn spin in turn four with 20 laps in the books, the battle was on with Johnson and Hodges turning up the heat on Gile for the point.
Johnson slid past Gile for the lead in turns three and four momentarily on lap 27, only to have Gile counter the move and recapture the lead exiting turn four.
The reigning USAC Southwest Sprint Car champion made the move stick the next time around and raced on to the stripe as Hodges and Gile traded sliders over the final pair of laps. Hodges got the final advantage to land runner-up honors in the Jackson Compaction No. 74x with Gile settling for the show position.
In the thick of the battle throughout, Koby Barksdale landed a fourth-place finish with Deskins rounding out the top five. Tye Mihocko was sixth with Charles Davis, Jr., Kyle Clark, Alex DeCamp and Anthony Nicholson completing the top ten.
Jordon Mallett, Barksdale, Johnson and Cameron Hagin topped heat race action for the 33 car field with Clark and Nicholson winning the “B” Main.
Casey Wills night ended early after a wild ride down the backstretch in the third heat. Wills was uninjured.
The Fourth Annual USAC Southwest Sprint Cars “Freedom Tour” moves on to Wichita’s 81 Speedway on Friday night before wrapping up at Dodge City Raceway Park on Saturday night.
USAC Southwest Freedom Tour Round Two Results – Creek County Speedway
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 14-Jordon Mallett, 2. 13g-Dennis Gile, 3. 11w-Wyatt Burks, 4. 74x-Josh Hodges, 5. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 6. 22$-David Stephenson, 7. 96-Cody Brewer, 8. 87F-Brian McClelland, 9. 84-Alex DeCamp.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 22-Koby Barksdale, 2. 20-Shon Deskins, 3. 8m-Kade Morton, 4. 9$-Kyle Clark, 5. 24L-Layne Himebaugh, 6. 5$-Danny Smith, 7. 57-Kyle Chady, 8. 79-Tim Kent.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 77m-R.J. Johnson, 2. 24c-Craig Carroll, 3. 52-Blake Hahn, 4. 15d-Andrew Deal, 5. 16x-Anthony Nicholson, 6. 53-Brett Wilson, 7. 13w-Grant Wresche, 8. 31-Casey Wills.
Heat Four (8 Laps): 1. 5h-Cameron Hagin, 2. 92-Waylon Weaver, 3. 5-Tye Mihocko, 4. 7-Shannon McQueen, 5. 3-Jamie McDonald, 6. 97-Kevin Cummings, 7. 54-William Scribner, 8. 23-David Dutton.
First “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 9$-Kyle Clark, 2. 53-Brett Wilson, 3. 84-Alex DeCamp, 4. 79-Tim Kent, 5. 54-William Scribner, 6. 8m-Kade Morton, 7. 87F-Brian McClelland, 8. 97-Kevin Cummings. DNS: 22$-David Stephenson, 5$-Danny Smith.
Second “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 16x-Anthony Nicholson, 2. 24L-Layne Himebaugh, 3. 15d-Andrew Deal, 4. 57-Kyle Chady, 5. 13w-Grant Wresche, 6. 3-Jamie McDonald, 7. 96-Cody Brewer, 8. 23-David Dutton. DNS: 31-Casey Wills.
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 77m-R.J. Johnson (6), 2. 74x-Josh Hodges (2), 3. 13g-Dennis Gile (1), 4. 22-Koby Barksdale (9), 5. 20-Shon Deskins (3), 6. 5-Tye Mihocko (4), 7. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (13), 8. 9$-Kyle Clark (15), 9. 84-Alex DeCamp (19), 10. 16x-Anthony Nicholson (16), 11. 14-Jordon Mallett (8), 12. 24L-Layne Himebaugh (18), 13. 11w-Wyatt Burks (14), 14. 53-Brett Wilson (17), 15. 7-Shannon McQueen (10), 16. 52-Blake Hahn (7), 17. 5h-Cameron Hagin (5), 18. 15d-Andrew Deal (20), 19. 92-Waylon Weaver (12), 20. 24c-Craig Carroll (11).
The Wheatley Chronicles brings insight and highlights from all variety of racing series throughout the nation in 2016 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 www.sprintcarmania.com to Lonnie Wheatley at firstname.lastname@example.org.