PARK CITY, KA – Anytime Jason Johnson has a chance to race at 81 Speedway in Kansas, he jumps at the opportunity. After all, he has seven victories at the track in his career and has been in contention for a win just about every time he has taken to the three-eighths-mile, just outside of Wichita.
Johnson will return to 81 Speedway this week as the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series hits the track for the Kansas Outlaw Klassic presented by Great Clips, Murphy Tractor & Equipment and the City of Park City, Kansas on Saturday, May 6. A full night of racing is in store for the best winged sprint car drivers in the world.
Johnson scored his first victory at 81 Speedway in 2002 with the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions. He followed that up in 2003 with another win, when the series hit the Heartland for their annual “Thunder through the Plains” mini-series. The native of Eunice, Louisiana picked up five more wins with the National Championship Racing Association (NCRA) at 81 Speedway in 2004, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013.
“Several years ago we just found a package that works really well for Wichita (81 Speedway),” said Johnson. “For whatever reasons that same set-up has worked over the years. We show up each time and it seems to work, so we have just stuck with it. We’ve won with other series at 81 Speedway, so to cap it off with a World of Outlaws win would be great. We’ve always had good speed there. We have a lot of good fans around there and have spent a fair amount of time racing in the Kansas area. It would mean a lot to pull off a win in front of those fans.”
Johnson competed for the first time at 81 Speedway in 1997 with the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions. While it has been a few years since he last raced at the track, he will have been the most recent visitor of the full-time World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series competitors. Many of the drivers will be seeing 81 Speedway for the first time, while veterans such as eight-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz, 2013 titlist Daryn Pittman and Joey Saldana, will be making their first trip to the venue since the series last visit in 2006.
“You always want to believe that you have an advantage, but the World of Outlaws are the best group of racers in the world and the stoutest field, no doubt,” Johnson noted. “These guys will figure the track out right away. We’ll use the notes and set-up we have from the past and go from there and adjust and adapt as needed.”
Johnson, who kicked off the 2016 season with a win at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida, has added a second victory on the opening night of the Texas Outlaw Nationals at the famed Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Texas a couple of weeks ago. A true “clean sweep” was in store that night for Johnson as he was fastest in time trials, led every lap of the first heat race, was out front for every lap of the dash and paced every lap of the feature to pick up the win.
“When we got to Texas we got a new Maxim chassis down from upstairs (in the trailer),” Johnsons shared. “That car was one we built for the summertime and it seemed like it worked right away. We had good speed the whole time we were in Texas and the car was very similar to the one we ran at Volusia and we had a lot of speed there. We are definitely happy with that.”
Entering this week’s trio of races for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series, Johnson sits fourth in points. He has 10 top-10 finishes, with six of those being top-five performances. Johnson is one of just four drivers who have won multiple A-Feature events thus far in 2017.
“We want to be a championship contender and we have our work cut out for us,” he said. “We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole on the West Coast and didn’t run as well as we would have liked. We have to step our game up and try to get more podium finishes and be more consistent. If we can consistently be in the top-five and on the podium and eliminate the DNFs (did not finish) we can hopefully gain some points and get back in contention.”
With nearly 70 races remaining on the schedule for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series, Johnson looks to improve on his stats from 2016, which saw him win a career-high four A-Feature events and finish seventh in points. The veteran driver is optimistic for the remainder of this season as he has the same crew members in place from last year’s successful season.
“One of our goals when we decided to run with the World of Outlaws was to build a team and a package that was consistent,” Johnson stated. “If you look at the great teams over the years, it’s been teams that have had drivers and crew chiefs that have been together for a long time. Communicating well and building a strong team year in and year out is very important. We have a great group of guys. They enjoy working together, travelling together and spending time together. That makes it a lot of fun.”
Tickets for the Kansas Outlaw Klassic presented by Great Clips, Murphy Tractor & Equipment Co. and the City of Park City, Kansas, featuring the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series at 81 Speedway in Kansas on Saturday, May 6 can purchased online at slspromotions.ticketforce.com or by calling: 815-344-2023 and at the track on race day.
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