Lucas Oil Speedway Preseason Spotlight: Fennewald takes aim at 4th straight ULMA track title
WHEATLAND, Missouri (March 3, 2020) - For Johnny Fennewald, the key to winning three straight Lucas Oil Speedway championships in the Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA division was not focusing on the points.
"I don't ever think about it, because I don't ever plan on running for points when I start a season," Fennewald said. "You can kind of get caught up in it. If you're there at the end, you're there at the end. That's the way I look at it.
"It takes a lot of stress off you, if you look at it that way. Just go try and win races. That's how I approach it."
Fennewald will take that same approach when a new Lucas Cattle Company ULMA season begins in a few weeks. Why fix what isn't broken?
And one thing is certain: If Fennewald is in the hunt nearing the finish, he's proven tough to beat when the stakes are high on the Lucas Oil Speedway dirt.
The Appleton City driver's first ULMA track title in 2017 saw Fennewald needing to finish ahead of Aaron Marrant on the final night of the season. A second-place finish was good enough as it was one spot in front of Marrant.
The last two years, those two and Kaeden Cornell were separated by just five points entering closing night. In both 2018 and 2019, Fennewald rose to the occasion and won the title-deciding feature, making a doubly sweet trip to victory lane.
Clearly, Fennewald enjoys the pressure. Even though he feels it's not pressure at all.
"It's fun. I love the challenge," Fennewald said, adding that a tight points race clearly defines what needs to be done. "You know what you have to do. If you're going to win the points, you have to win the race, basically. It's simple."
The season-ending drama almost wasn't poised to go Fennewald's way after a four-week, self-proclaimed slump preceded the final night. It included a third-place finish, two fourths and an uncharacteristic seventh.
"It was my own fault," he said. "Running a construction business and driving for UPS - and trying to keep up with everything (on the car) myself - it's a lot of work. If you don't check everything, you might miss something."
Fennewald said his lift-arm shock was off and he didn't realize it for those few weeks.
"I knew right when I found it that the car would be pretty good, and we went back to winning again," he said. "Just in time."
Fennewald expects more of the same top-caliber - if not even tougher - competition this season with some new names expected to join the ULMA fray. In addition to a dozen Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series events at Lucas Oil Speedway, there are two October events at the Wheatland oval, plus three ULMA races at Monett Speedway and two scheduled at Grain Valley Speedway.
"You never know," Fennewald said of his 2020 rivals. "I've heard some names pop up and I'm loving it. I want us to have 40 cars a night. I don't care who shows up. I like competition. It makes you a lot better.
"We've been pretty busy this winter," Fennewald added. "I work on the car every night. Late nights and long days. Get up early and stay up late. That's how it works."
The ULMA and Lucas Oil Speedway season kicks off with the Open Test and Tune on March 28 at Lucas Oil Speedway. The Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series opening night with the ULMA Late Models is set for April 4 with action in all four divisions - Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds, Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods, Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models and O'Reilly Auto Parts Street Stocks.
For all of the latest news and information on Lucas Oil Speedway, including the full 2020 schedule, fans are encouraged to visit LucasOilSpeedway.com.