PORTAGE, Wis. (July 14, 2021) – No matter how far a racer spreads his or her wings, there will always be that one track they call home. For four-time and defending TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Champion that place is Jefferson Speedway.
Despite racing in big races throughout the country (and winning his fair share), there is still an extra level of excitement in Johnson’s voice when he talks about Wisconsin’s Action Track. This Saturday he’ll have a chance to grab his third series win at home in Transport Services LLC Round Three.
“It feels great going back,” Johnson said. “Not only do I love that track, but there aren’t many things like racing a Super Late Model at Jefferson Speedway. It’s just a little bullring with a ton of grip. It should be a heck of a show.”
Johnson has had plenty of success in TUNDRA races at Jefferson. In his series debut in 2013 he raced his way to Fourth before rain shortened the event. He returned in 2014, capturing his first series win. After a runner-up finish in 2015, Johnson completed the clean sweep and wrapped up his first series title in 2016.
The last two visits found Johnson again contending for the win, including another runner-up finish last season. He wants badly to find his way to Victory Lane at his home track again, but knows it will not be easy.
“Getting a TUNDRA victory is just getting harder and harder every race,” Johnson said. “The competition is getting better. The guys are getting the hang of Jefferson every time we go back. Getting a win there would be huge.”
Earlier this season, Johnson was able to get the monkey off his back of sorts. After capturing the Championship in 2020 without a win, Johnson got back to his winning ways in Round One at Wisconsin International Raceway as he was able to outpace his mentee Grant Thompson. It was Johnson’s first win in the series since August of 2019.
This season will see another challenge for Johnson as he enters in a brand new situation. Johnson will be driving for Aaron Larson. He also will be fielding an entry with 15-year-old Alabama driver Grant Thompson behind the wheel. So far the tandem have done well with both recording back-to-back Top Ten finishes. Aside from going for the win, Johnson will also have to be a coach.
Coaching Grant Thompson and being the man to beat at Jefferson brings Johnson to a new level in his journey as a racer. He began racing as a teen at the quarter-mile and had a hard time convincing his dad to let him compete. Eventually, he started taking lessons from the veteran racers.
“To be honest, I just followed all of the good guys there,” Johnson said. “Early in my career I remember on a Thursday night my dad would only let me practice just because he didn’t think I was ready to race yet. Jason Schuler popped up out there. I jumped behind him and thought, ‘I’m going to hang with this guy.’ First corner I sent it in and spun it around. Apparently I wasn’t ready. It takes years of just watching the veterans then trying to beat the veterans. I just kind of got a knack for it.”
After getting a handle on the weekly racing and taking three Championships, Johnson moved focus to Super Late Model racing. Although he has plenty of laps in the Late Model, he said Super Late Model racing was a big adjustment. He also said it makes for some wild action from green to checkered.
“With the eight inch tires we have to peddle it a little bit and keep the car underneath you. With the Super Late it feels like you’re qualifying 75 laps straight,” Johnson said. “You just go crazy. Some of those races the fastest laps run are the last ten laps of the race.”
The focus for Johnson is to win the race on Saturday, and most likely to help Grant Thompson along the way as well. What Johnson won’t be too highly focused on is the Championship standings, where he leads again and can build a cushion as he seeks his fifth series title.
“I’m not much of a guy that looks at points. We’ve been around that for a lot of years and we’ve been able to win a lot of them,” he said. “I just know if you win the race, you’ll win the Championship.”
The TUNDRA Super Late Model Series head to Jefferson for Transport Services LLC Round Three next Saturday, July 17. TUNDRA will be joined by the Hobby Stocks, Bandits, and Road Warriors. Qualifying is at 5 pm with racing beginning at 7 pm.
Jefferson Speedway is located on US Hwy 18 between Jefferson and Cambridge, Wis. For more information visit http://www.jeffersonspeedway.com