A year after recording the most successful season of his racing career, Casey Johnson will flip the script for his 2017 campaign.
Through a combination of racing in his own equipment and teaming up with Chase Motorsports, the Wisconsin driver picked up over a dozen wins, three championships and ARCA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year honors in 2016.
Together, Johnson and Chase Motorsports scored four wins, a TUNDRA title, the Madison Triple Crown Championship and the Red, White & Blue Championship. However, after two seasons together, the two have split ways and fellow Wisconsin driver Travis Sauter will jump behind the wheel of the No. 47 in 2017.
“It really wasn’t something either Chase Motorsports or I wanted to do and it basically came down to funding,” Johnson told Speed51.com. “We didn’t have sponsorship to run any touring races and Travis Sauter was able to bring that to the table, so it was really the only way for them to continue running other races outside of Kaukauna.”
Johnson has seen success in his No. 5 car over the years, both in his Super Late Model and Pro Late Model. In fact, the 26-year-old driver earned 11 wins in the seat of own machine. He plans to put 35-40 races on his schedule, mainly in the Super Late Model division, but he’s not ruling out joining forces with another team if the opportunity arises.
“As of now I will primarily be in my car but that can change in a phone call so we will see,” Johnson stated.
Along with an action-packed schedule, Johnson also took on a new role as crew chief for John Beale Racing. Beale earned three wins at his home track of Madison International Speedway (WI) and finished third in points last year.
Johnson said he’s not worried about finding a balance between being on top of the pit box and behind the wheels. He sees his new job as an opportunity to better his own racing as well.
“John and I sat down and came up with a schedule that would allow him to get plenty of seat time in a Super Late and still allow me to be able to compete in most of the bigger events in the Midwest,” Johnson explained. “The benefit of doing both I think can be pretty big. I make all the changes off of what I feel in the seat, so having another driver give me feedback and being able to see the car will give me a whole other aspect on what changes to make to the cars and could end up benefiting my cars as well.
While the success of his 2016 season will be hard to beat, Johnson is up to the task. He has his sights set on even more trips to Victory Lane this year.
“I only have one goal going in and that’s contend for the win every time I show up,” Johnson said. “That won’t change whether I’m driving or calling the shots for John. I always set a goal to win more races than I did the previous season, and driving so many different chassis last season taught me a lot of different ideas I can put back into my program so that definitely makes me more confident for 2017.”
With more confidence and a slight change of scenery, expect Johnson to be just as, if not more competitive than he was one year ago.
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22