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Johnson wins thriller at WaKeeney

WaKeeney — For a few laps, the field seemed to stand still.

That tends to happen when everyone is going the same speed. But C.J. Johnson broke that trend in thrilling fashion Friday night en route to his second win at WaKeeney Speedway this season.

Johnson started 10th and didn't get clicking until the halfway point of the race. Then he ran down the top cars and bolted into the lead to capture the victory.

“It took a long time to get going,“ Johnson said. “I got a pretty good start and got by a couple there. Then I kind of fell in line behind Herbert and Ty, and we were all kind of going to same speed. Then I don' know what happened when I got going.”

Craig Jecha paced the field to the green, with Bob Sheaffer alongside him. Sheaffer would jump into the lead, with Luke Cranston tucking in behind him and Jecha falling into third the first three laps.

Cranston got by Sheaffer on lap four, and Ty Williams got by Jecha to move into third. Brian Herbert would move into fourth on lap five, with Johnson hot on his heels.

“I really thought we felt pretty good,” Cranston said. “You have to expect guys like C.J. coming from back there. C.J.’s the man at this race track. I don't know for sure, but he's probably won as many as I've ever raced here. He's really good, and when you have guys like him back there, you have to know there's always somebody coming.”

Johnson finally got around Herbert on lap 11, then passed Williams two laps later to move into the top three as Cranston slowly increased his lead over Sheaffer.

Johnson passed Sheaffer on lap 12 and began reeling in the leader.

“I'm not sure if I was driving around or if my car got better and everybody else's didn't the slicker it got,” Johnson said.

He eventually got by Cranston as the two passed the flag stand on lap 18. Then the lone caution waved as Jecha spun in turn two.

“We ran that whole race without any yellows until about seven to go,” Johnson said. “I thought, ‘Man, I can't pass all these guys one at a time.’ Then I'd catch them and pass them, catch them and pass them. Then when I caught Sheaffer, I thought he must be up front because he started up front. Then I got by him and saw Luke and realized he was in the lead. At that point, I didn't want any yellows. My car was just as good as it was going to be right then.”

That bunched up the field, with Johnson at the point, followed by Cranston and Ray Seemann, who started eighth and moved into the top three on lap 17.

Two laps after the race resumed, Seemann got by Cranston into second, and Johnson would lead the top three the rest of the way until the checkered flag.

“I didn't think I was going to go anywhere there for a while,” Seemann said. “We were all kind of going the same speed. Then down there in three and four, it started coming to me a little bit. And we even got a couple of them down in one and two, and I don't know how we did that.”

Josh Fairbank, who won the second B feature to make the A-main, moved up eight spots to finish fourth, and Williams finished fifth, one spot ahead of Herbert.

“He must have found something,” Cranston, who won his heat race, said about Johnson. “I thought I was faster or just as fast as him, but he found something in one and two that I couldn't figure out. Ray was the same way. For some reason, they were just sticking better. I tried going in a little harder, and that didn't work. Then I tried going in a little slower, and that didn't work. At the end, I moved up to the top and got a little momentum going, but it was too little, too late, I guess.”

Heat race winners were Craig Jecha, Patrick Bourke, Brian Herbert and Luke Cranston.

Jeff Radcliffe won the Keizer Aluminum Racing Wheels Hard Charger award, going from 18th to eighth.

Feature results

1. C.J. Johnson, 2. Ray Seemann, 3. Luke Cranston, 4. Josh Fairbank, 5. Ty Williams, 6. Brian Herbert, 7. Bob Scheaffer, 8. Jeff Radcliffe, 9. Patrick Bourke, 10. Barry Crane, 11. Zach Blurton, 12, Tyler Knight. 13. Gavin Stout, 14. Lance Davis, 15. Connor Atkinson, 16. Mike Parker, 17. Craig Jecha, 18. Mark Walinder (DNF), 19. Adam Trimble (DNF), 20. Keefe Hemel (DNS).

1st B feature

1. Barry Crane, 2. Tyler Knight, 3. Lance Davis, 4. Connor Atkinson, 5. Mike Parker, 6. Judd Sheaffer, 7. Jordan Randles, 8. Reed Bernbeck, 9. Cody Kieswetter, 10. Steve Dalton, 11. Shawn Radcliffe, 12. Jared Kern (DNS).

2nd B feature

1. Josh Fairbank, 2. Zach Blurton, 3. Mark Walinder, 4. Jeff Radcliffe, 5. Gavin Stout, 6. Kaden Taylor, 7. Blake Smith Jr., 8. Mike Woodruff, 9. Blake Bogenhagen, 10, Dan Brummet, 11. Larry Radcliffe.

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