RJ Johnson - Second at Jerry Richert Memorial!

Monday, September 11, 2017
RJ finished second in the Jerry Richert Memorial at Cedar Lake Saturday in the Leyton #19 (Ian Madsen, center, won with Bill Balog, right, third)RJ finished second in the Jerry Richert Memorial at Cedar Lake Saturday in the Leyton #19 (Ian Madsen, center, won with Bill Balog, right, third) (Bill W) Septermber 11, 2017 – RJ Johnson teamed up with Minnesota’s Rhys and Pam Leyton to drive their #19 sprint car last weekend, and it paid off big time!  RJ finished eighth at Amsoil Speedway in Superior, Wisconsin Friday and came home second at the prestigious Jerry Richert Memorial at Cedar Lake Speedway near New Richmond, Wisconsin Saturday.  The team will try to build on their success this Friday and Saturday with the IRA at the Clay County Fair Speedway in Spencer, Iowa, and Deer Creek Speedway near Spring Valley, Minnesota Saturday.

RJ teamed up with the Leyton’s for the first time.  “They do business with us, and we always talked about doing something,” he says.  “So we finally did last weekend.  I put my seat in up in Superior at three o’clock on Friday and away we went.  They have a really good engine.  We really didn’t do anything but make a few weight adjustments.  I felt good in the car right away.  I was the first car out in time trials and having never been to the track, I wasn’t sure where to go.  We still ended up eighth quick.”

That put him outside row one for his heat.  “Chris Martin beat me on the start and I followed him around for seven laps,” says RJ.  “We had a yellow and I tried to get underneath him.  I just didn’t carry enough speed.  Luckily, we had another yellow, and that time I made the bottom stick to win it.”

RJ drew a starting spot outside row five for the feature, but moved forward right away.  “We were able to get up to fifth and sixth with Ian (Madsen),” he says.  “We were riding around behind (Scott) Neitzel and biding our time.  He was running the bottom and I was in the middle.  Terry (McCarl) and (Bill) Balog got together and Terry spun.  Chris Martin hit him and I had nowhere to go and spun out.”

Despite going to rear of the field, he came back to finish eighth.  “We kind of followed Terry back up through there,” says RJ.  “He was a little better on the starts than I was, and he got up to third.  I really enjoyed the track.  It had multiple grooves.  We were better on the bottom of one and two and the middle of three and four.”

Saturday brought the Jerry Richert Memorial.  “I’d been to Cedar Lake twice, and flipped in the same spot both times, once in the #55 and once in my car,” says RJ.  “I didn’t know what to do in time trials.  It was getting slick in one and two.  I just ran the bottom going out that late.  I didn’t feel that great, but when we got in, they told me we were eighth quick.  We ended up 11th.”

That put RJ on the pole of the heat.  “I knew I had to win the heat to get in the redraw,” he says.  “Scotty Thiel was beside us.  The Leyton’s have a HP motor and that thing takes off.  The IRA starts the race further down the straightaway.  I took it slow and took off at the line.  I think I took Thiel by surprise a little bit.  I knew Balog was back there, so I just ran as hard as I could and we were able to win it.”

This time, he drew a starting spot for the main event inside row two.  “That made all the difference in the world,” says RJ.  “I could race with the leaders from the start.  We dropped back to fifth right away.  Skylar Gee and Ian got by me.  We rode around in fifth for the longest time.  There were a lot of guys pounding the top.  I thought they may be using their tires.  We were rolling through the middle, and if we got free, we moved the wing back.”

A late caution brought RJ the opportunity he needed for a podium finish.  “We had a restart with six to go,” he says.  “I went through the middle of one and two and came out in third.  We got by Skylar and Austin (McCarl).  Brooke Tatnell blew a tire on the last lap, and we ended up second.  That last restart is what did everything for us.  It was great, and I’d like to thank Rhys and Pam.  We’re really looking forward to this weekend at Spencer and Deer Creek.”

RJ finished second in the Jerry Richert Memorial at Cedar Lake Saturday in the Leyton #19 (Ian Madsen, center, won with Bill Balog, right, third)

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