Casey Johnson had high expectations entering the 2016 season. Following a strong end to the previous racing season, Johnson had momentum on his side and he used that momentum to find success at race tracks across the state of Wisconsin. With the end of the season drawing near, the 26-year-old driver has over a dozen wins, three championships and ARCA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year honors on his 2016 stat sheet.
“You never know what to expect at the beginning of the season, but I knew I had a lot of good equipment to drive,” Johnson told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We ended the previous season strong so my expectations were definitely high.”
Not only did Johnson meet his expectations, he surpassed them. The Wisconsin driver earned five Super Late Model wins at three different tracks. He captured the Madison (WI) Triple Crown championship, earning two top-five finishes, as well as the Red, White and Blue State Championship at Wisconsin International Raceway with a win, a second and a sixth-place finish.
His other championship came in the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series, where he never finished outside of the top 10, earning four top-five finishes and one win.
Johnson also cruised to the Rookie of the Year title in the ARCA Midwest Tour, earning six top 10 and two top-five finishes in his first year with the series.
“It was awesome to be able to get Rookie of the Year on the tour,” Johnson stated. “It is definitely the most challenging series I’ve ever competed in. There’s usually 15-20 cars that can easily contend for the win. I was happy to at least have a top 10 car at each race and be able to get some laps at tracks I’ve never been to.”
Along with his Super Late Model success, Johnson also continued his winning ways behind the wheel of his Limited Late Model. He earned eight wins at Jefferson Speedway (WI), as well as one win in the Big 8 Series at Madison International Speedway (WI).
“The success came from a lot of work in the shop over the winter and a few things we found testing in the spring with both my 5 cars and the 47 cars,” said Johnson.
Johnson credits his busy race schedule with his success at different tracks. From a third-place finish at Gateway Motorsports Park (IL) to six top-10 finishes at different tracks with the Midwest Tour, Johnson was a contender whenever he was at the race track.
“Running well at many places and in different cars I think stems from how much seat time I was able to get this year,” Johnson explained. “I ran two to three times a weekend and kind of knew the feel I needed in the cars from track to track.”
Two particular weekends stand out to the young driver. At the end of September, Johnson swept the three day Wisconsin State Championships at Jefferson. He set fast time in his Limited Late Model Friday night and then swept the twin features Saturday night. All of this before laying down the fastest qualifying lap in the TUNDRA Series on Sunday on his way to winning the race and capturing the title.
Just two weekends later Johnson got out his broom again, this time sweeping the National Short Track Championships weekend at Rockford Speedway (IL). It’s a feat that has rarely been done and puts him with some elite company.
“The biggest highlight of my season was being able to sweep the weekend at Rockford for the Short Track Championships just because the only other driver to accomplish that was Joe Shear,” Johnson said. “And to be able to accomplish anything that he did would mean a lot to any driver.”
Johnson has his No. 5 and 47 cars in the garage foe the season, but he will be climbing behind the wheel one last time in 2016. He will pilot a Pathfinder Chassis Super Late Model at the Dells Raceway Park (WI) Falloween 150 this weekend.
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo credit: Speed51.com