John uses the inside line as he works his way forward at Lakeside Speedway. His night ende
"A few years ago, I was embarrassed to say I bought it," says Tim Schreckler, the owner.
He's recently added new catch fencing, restrooms, and a concession stand. His car counts are still low and the stands aren't full. He's had difficulty tapping into the Kansas City market.
"It's a shame Tim doesn't get more people here," says John. "The track is pretty racy and the show's always good."
The crew stalls unloading the car, hoping to hide in the shade of the trailer for as long as possible. Two of them grab fishing poles and try their luck at the nearby pond, which provides water for the track. Others joke they are more likely to get a bite from a water moccasin than a fish.
John Washburn, whose trailer is next to John Allen's, comes by to take refuge from the blistering sun. He races against John Allen, but says the competition doesn't diminish his friendship or admiration of him.
"I'm running Fifth in points at the track," he says. "But if John blew up or wrecked in the heat race, I'd give him my car. I really want him to win this title. And I know that if there was anything I needed, he'd be the first one to offer it or lend a hand. He's done it for me more than once."
Unlike Friday night, when it's finally time to unload and hit the track, there is no panic.
The engine cranks once and explodes with the thunder of 650 hp. With the 410ci V-8 running on alcohol, the 2,275-pound car has a power-to-weight ratio that exceeds anything else in NASCAR.
"It's scary fast," says John. "That's what makes it so much damn fun."
The track has a lot of grip during the warm-up laps, but John figures it will loosen up before the heat races.He gyesses wrong.
"That's the biggest difference between dirt and pavement," he says. "You can predict what pavement will do, but dirt is never the same lap to lap."
He runs Third in the heat race and asks for new shocks for the main event.
"I make all the calls," he says. "We win as a team, but if we lose, it's really my fault. The guys give me exactly the car I ask for. If I make a mistake, I have to live with it."
The sun is low on the horizon when the call goes out to line up the Modifieds for the final race of the night. John takes one last look at the track while there's still time to make a change, but opts to stand on the hand he's holding.
As the cars go onto the track, he is on the outside of the third row. The cars come around slowly for a few warm-up laps and then explode out of Turn 4 the instant the starter shows them the green.
By the time they pass the flag stand again, John's blue No. 98 is running Third.
The race evolves into a wreckfest. It comes as no surprise. John predicted as much.
"There's a huge difference in talent, equipment, and experience from front to back of the field," he says. "The key is to get out front and let 'em wreck behind you."
That's what they do. One car into the wall here. Another one over the berm there. Two of them together on the front straight.
During a brief few laps under the green, John dives inside the car in front of him to move into Second. A few laps later, the leader gets into trouble in Turn 4 and John squeezes by.