Note: This is the third and final installment of Carter County’s Gunner Johnson’s recollections of his start as a race driver.
Me and my team were very blessed and really amped up for the second season to come.
We started out with a new paint and body work, and a new wrap. The car looked great; it had a fresh engine and was race ready. We got a late start into the season. Jimmy Lennex Jr. and I had been working like crazy to get my newer body done on my car, and then it had to go to the paint shop.
All of that put us about three weeks behind. But man, did Ol’ Kenny, who is better known in my crew as Papaw #2, had my car turned up. With his son, Kenny, they completed a fresh head and bottom end for me. I could really tell a difference in my power plant. While my car was improved, everyone had stepped up they’re game!
I ran week after week, always digging and trying harder , but would still fall short. I could run up on them boys and hang with them, but just couldn’t get around them. I was in need of a bigger motor, and it wasn’t looking like I’d be getting one anytime soon. Finally, we had a “coming together” moment and got a different setup on my ride.
Then I could see a big difference in where I was starting and finishing. The way I like my car may not be the way most would like theirs. Some may look at my setup and say, “Change this or change that.” But, until you are behind the wheel and know how you like a track, or a setup for a track – it is hard to explain. I have had other older drivers look at my car and say,”No way that works.” But for me it does. I’ve had several different type of setup programs and I kinda took a little from each.
With the help of “Pit Daddy” and Jackie, I’ve got my own method. We went on to run 15 races in my 2nd season. I had nine top five finishes, and finished third in points at Richmond Raceway. As I’ve continued to race, I’ve met more and more great drivers and crews. For instance, Shane Bailey and AJ Hicks are always quick to offer me help or advice when needed. And there’s a whole bunch of others that treat me great.
Now that I’ve gotten knee deep into the dirt track sense, I’m still setting goals and dreaming! Right now I’m trying to get a win under my belt in this class. I’m in the process of building a sport mod with Boogie Sammons and Brain Sammons of S&S Motorsports. The sport mod is a growing class all around our area and I’m looking forward to running it and racing with my good friend Jimmy Lennex at “MRP”.
But, I’m not a settler. I’m still focusing on one big dream and goal of mine. I hope to one day be running a Swartz by Boggs or maybe even drive for Boggs one day! As much as Jackie rides me maybe I’ll get the opportunity one day!