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CJ Johnson Wins The 3rd ANNUAL URSS Wheatshocker National Crown


He never doubted his ability. That’s why C.J. Johnson thought it had to be something with his car, Once the sprint car driver got it figured out, things were back to normal Sunday night on the second day of the third annual Wheatshocker Rebel Nationals at RPM Speedway in Hays. The Quinter driver bested the 20-car field of the 305 sprint car United Rebel Sprint Series 30-lap feature to pocket $2,000.“We figured out some stuff (Sunday) morning we had wrong on the car,” Johnson said. “We had it that way the last three races. I knew it had to be something because I didn’t think I had forgotten how to drive or something.”

Johnson, last year’s national points champ, had raced sparingly in the URSS this season before the weekend. Both those races ended with engine troubles and DNFs. But Friday night, Johnson finished third at WaKeeney Speedway, then eighth Saturday night on the first night of the nationals — locking himself into Sunday’s A-main. The top 10 finishers Saturday night earned automatic spots in the finale Sunday, while the rest of the drivers had to run heat races, then finish in the top five in one of two qualifiers to make the A-main.

Tyler Knight won Saturday’s opener but started inside the fourth row Sunday due to the URSS points system. It was one spot behind Johnson. Kirby Hagans started on the pole alongside Smokey Fairbank, who won Friday night in WaKeeney. Hagans jumped out to the early lead, followed by Fairbank and Johnson. They’d stay that way until the first caution, when Ty Williams spun in turn four. On the restart, Johnson got by Fairbank and began pressuring Hagans. After a second caution flag, Johnson was able to get by Hagans for the top spot on lap 11.

“At first, I didn’t think I wanted to get in the lead that quick,” said Johnson, who won the inaugural nationals in 2008 before finishing fourth a year ago. “But the car just kept getting better and better, and I knew I could save the tire. I could sit out front and wait until I heard somebody else coming up behind me.” That never materialized. The only thing that slowed Johnson was three more cautions. But each time, he was able to safely pull away to a comfortable lead and the large payout. “That’s all right, isn’t it,” Johnson said about the large winner’s check. “And anytime we win at Hays, it’s nice. It’s close to home, and there’s always a lot of family and friends here.”

While Johnson dominated out front, the battle heated up behind him. Hagans and Fairbank were locked comfortably in the second and third spots before Hagans lost an engine and spun on lap 17, ending his night and moving Fairbank to second, Jason Martin to third and Brian Herbert to fourth. The top four would stay the same until lap 24, when Fairbank’s ride coasted to a stop, leaving him needing a push to the pit road to try to rectify the situation and eventually ending his great run.

That left Martin, who started 12th, in second behind Johnson, with Herbert in third, Ray Seemann in fourth and Cody Salem — who won at RPM on April 23 — in fifth on the restart. “I knew I had to have cautions to get by guys to get up there to challenge, or we were going to have to go race 20 laps and get into lap traffic to slow them down,” said Martin, who raced a 360 sprint car Saturday night in Dodge City before making the trip to Hays on Sunday. Johnson would pull away from the field on the final restart, and the top five would remain the same until the checkered flag waved.

“Starting eighth on a rubbered-up race track, it’s not too bad,” Herbert said about his third-place finish. “A couple of cautions helped out. I don’t think we could have caught C.J. though. He was hooked up good.” Martin said he was optimistic entering the feature but was satisfied with the runner-up finish — to a point. “I hate to say it, but I thought we had a chance to win it,” he said.

“But C.J. got out good.” Seemann finished fourth, and Salem came all the way from his 11th starting spot to take fifth. Salem and Martin, who was third a year ago, both won their respective qualifier Sunday to make the A-main.

The Keizer Aluminum Wheels "Hard Charger Award" was won by Jason Martin who came from his 12th place starting spot to grab a 2nd place finish.

Heat #1: 1-Barry Crane, 2-Mike Spear, 3-Cole Wood, 4-Judd Sheaffer, 5-Ken Lutters, 6-Kris Moore, 7-HJ Norman

Heat #2: 1-Nick King, 2-Jeff Radcliffe, 3-Blake Bogenhagen, 4-Zach Blurton, 5-Fred Holz,6-Garth Griffith

Heat #3: 1-Jason Martin, 2-Cody Salem, 3-Nick Haygood, 4-Shawn Radcliffe, 5-Chad Salem, 6-Michael Williams

B-Main #1: Top Five to A-Main

1-Cody Salem (22), 2-Nick Haygood (1N), 3-Adam Trimble (34), 4-Patrick Bourke (27), 5-Jeff Radcliffe (21R), 6-Cole Wood (17W), 7-Shawn Radcliffe (3), 8-Kris Moore (49), 9-Michael Williams (77W), 10-HJ Norman (14N), 11-Barry Crane (30C), 12Fred Holz (1H)

B-Main #2: Top Five to A-main
1-Jason Martin (36), 2-Nick King (83), 3-Blake Smith Jr., 4-Josh Fairbank (51), 5-Blake Bogenhagen (27B), 6-Tyler Kraus (12), 7-Jordan Randles (007), 8-Ken Lutters (74), 9-Garth Griffith (17G), 10-Judd Sheaffer (56), 11-Chad Salem (17), 12-Mike Spear (54), 13-Zach Blurton (2J)

A-Main: 1- CJ Johnson (45X), 2-Jason Martin (36), 3-Brian Herbert (97),4-Raymond Seemann (72), 5-Cody Salem (22), 6-Tyler Knight (11K), 7-Keefe Hemel (11), 8-Josh Fairbank (51), 9-Corey Lutters (07), 10-Darren Bowman (9B), 11-Jeff Radcliffe (21R), 12-Ty Williams (1), 13-Blake Smith Jr. (46), 14-Blake Bogenhagen (27B), 15-Smokey Fairbank (2), 16-Kirby Hagans (4), 17-Nick Haygood (1N), 18-Nick King (83), 19-Patrick Bourke (27), Adam Trimble DQ - Light at Scales


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