One of the Midwest’s most successful drivers will have a new home next year as Casey Johnson joins forces with Travis Dassow/Apex Motorsports and Chase Motorsports for 2020. Dassow, who is a former ASA Challenge Series Champion, has served as the crew chief for John DeAngelis the past three seasons, and now will field his own car with Johnson behind the wheel. The two hooked-up for one race last year, and now the rest is history.
“This past season Casey and I were talking, and he really wanted to race the Carl Wegner Memorial at Slinger and didn’t have an opportunity to do so with his scheduling with his other cars,” Dassow said. “So, I told him to come drive mine. We had a lot of fun working together and had the same mindset on what the car was doing and changes that needed to be made. We really enjoyed working together, so when this opportunity came along it was a no brainer.”
“Travis had me jump into his car for a race earlier this year at Slinger and we had a blast,” Johnson commented. “He called me at the end of the season and wanted to meet with me to work out a deal for me to drive for him. We have a lot we want to accomplish and a lot of big races we want to run this season.”
Throughout his career, Dennis and Julie Chase have been a constant in Johnson’s career. Though the 2019 ARCA Midwest Tour Champion will have a different team name with him this year, that won’t change the involvement of the Chase family.
“Dennis will be a big part of our race team in 2020, Him and his wife Julie are two of the best car owners in the area and their dedication is second to none,” Dassow said. “Dennis approached me and Casey wanting to combine forces, and along with combining some equipment, he wants to be involved at the race track and do what he loves.”
“At the end of the season Dennis Chase and I were trying to figure out a way to improve our program so the second after Travis, Dennis and I talked we knew this is what we wanted to do,” Johnson said. “Travis has been well known in the Midwest as a great chassis guy and between the three of us I think we can produce some great results, especially with the experience Travis has in the southern races.”
While the 2020 schedule is not set in stone, the plan includes racing full-time in the ARCA Midwest Tour, where Johnson is the defending champion, and also trying to hit some bigger races throughout the country. Johnson has not dabbled much in the bigger Super Late Model races down south, something Dassow has some experience with while working with DeAngelis.
“Casey is one of the best drivers in the country, just a lot of people down south haven’t had a chance to race against him yet,” Dassow said. “I’m hoping we can get to some of those races and show what our little team with a great driver can do against some of the big names in short track racing.”
“We plan to branch out a little more next year,” Johnson stated. “In Travis’ car we will run the ARCA Midwest tour, also Berlin 251, Redbud 400, All American 400 and Slinger Nationals.”
Johnson brings a lengthy resume to the Apex Motorsports stables. Not only was he the 2019 ARCA Midwest Tour Champion, but he owns 85 career feature wins, is a three-time TUNDRA Series Champion and owns 10 other championships across the Midwest.
While Dassow hopes Johnson will help him take the next step in furthering Apex Motorsports, he will continue to call the shots for DeAngelis next year. The two have now worked together for three years and put together a solid 2019 season, putting together a third-place finish in the ARCA Midwest Tour with four top-five and seven top-10 finishes.
“It’s important to me to continue the relationship with Johnny (DeAngelis) and what we’ve grown to accomplish over the past few years,” Dassow said. “We want to make sure we all sit down and figure out a schedule that works for all of us.”
Powering the effort for Johnson will be a brand-new Wimmer Motorsports Fury chassis and a car Dassow built himself with Reed Racing. The switch to Fury is something Dassow has become accustomed to through his continued relationship with DeAngelis. The two made the switch to Fury towards the end of the 2018 season.
“I believe we have two race cars that can go out and compete for wins right out of the box, said Dassow. “We want to go to every race we go to with a good chance to win.”
“What excites me the most is getting to hit these tracks in new equipment,” Johnson said. “Travis has a new Fury chassis. I’m sure it will be a lot different than what I’m used to, but I’m excited about it.”
Another driving force behind this 2020 endeavor is the racing roots and family life of both Johnson and Dassow. Both are fathers to multiple children and know the toughness of juggling racing and home life. Dassow’s wife, Kelsey, was a racer herself and keeping that pastime in the family is important to everyone.
“Casey being a family guy with three daughters and me having two kids now, I think we both realize family comes first, but yet we still want to go out be competitive racing, have fun and we both expect success,” Dassow said. “When looking at what I wanted to do with our racing operation, I really don’t have the drive to be the driver anymore. Kelsey and I also talked and we couldn’t see not having race cars in the shop and going racing either, so we wanted to put someone in the car that we can position ourselves for wins and championships and also hoping to make it a long-term relationship.”
“I think the relationship will be great,” Johnson said. “We all have the same goal, which is to build the best cars we can and compete to win at every track, so I know we will work well together.”
-Story by: Jana Wimmer, Speed51 Midwest Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com