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Keeping Pace

Thu., Aug. 13, 2009, 12:05 a.m.


 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

Illinois native readies for showdown with Northwest's best late model drivers at Montana Raceway Park.

For Immediate Release: Montana Raceway Park

KALISPELL, Mont. (August 12, 2009)-For ARCA West Mac’s Series points
leader, Brian Johnson Jr., this weekend’s Bill Clark Can-Am Memorial at
Montana Raceway Park is just another step in his goal of racing on the
ARCA Re/Max or NASCAR Camping World Series in the future.

Coming off a third place run last weekend at Sun Valley Speedway to the
father and son duo of Pete and Shane Harding, Johnson is not fazed by the
level of competition he’s been facing in Western Canada or the Pacific

“Coming from the Midwest (Johnson hails from the state of Illinois) I have
run against some tough competition and guys back East say if you want to
get some great experience you need to run (in the Midwest). I know that
Pete (Harding) is good and that the competition this weekend in Montana
will be tough but my goal going into this two-day show is to win but if we
get a top-3 finish in Friday’s (Best of the West) race and keep a hold of
our points lead on Saturday it’d be very exciting when you look at the
guys we’ll have to race against to do that,” Johnson said.

“This will be the toughest race we’ll run all year except for the Slinger
Nationals (held in Wisconsin, where Johnson finished 12th),” the Illinois
native added.

Traveling from the Midwest to run in Western Canada has been rewarding for
Johnson. With just three races to go in the 2009 season, the team’s goals
are being reached and those not yet obtained are within grasp.

“When we started the season our goal was to win the championship and have
four or five race wins. Right now we’re leading the points, have two wins
and have three races to go to get two or three more.”

Winning an ARCA West championship may spring Johnson to higher levels of
racing, he noted.

“Next year I’d like to do something back East whether it’s on the ARCA
Re/Max or NASCAR Camping World series which leads to my life goal of
racing at the highest levels. To get there this is my first year trying to
reach that in the ARCA program. I have run in the ASA Midwest Series
(where Johnson finished 10th overall in 2007) and I have tested some ARCA
(Re/Max) and Camping World cars. Right now we’re trying to get the ARCA
West championship then we’ll see how things work out.

“I do know we’ll be going to (the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown weekend)
Irwindale in January and we’ve talked about running a Re/Max or Camping
World race later this year but we’re focused on this weekend and adding to
our points lead.”

Driving the SUPERSEAL Chevrolet for Ted Hubert and even having a chance to
win the championship has been a humbling experience for Johnson. At the
end of the 2007 season driving was going to give way to working on race
cars but the chance encounter with Hubert’s team has led to a potential
late model title-something Johnson is grateful to have in front of him as
2009 draws to a close.

“I live about five minutes from where Lefthander Chassis is located and
(current teammate) Dean (Craig) bought a car there and I came up to Canada
to crew chief for him and got him running in the top-5 consistently. One
day I tested a car for (Ted) and it’s been going ever since. Ted contacted
me over the winter about testing some cars and now we’re running to see if
we can get that championship.

“I was done with racing after 2007 and I figured I’d done enough but now
this opportunity is here and I couldn’t ask for a better situation to be
in with Ted and SUPERSEAL behind me.”

Johnson has become a frequent flyer in his quest to win the 2009 ARCA West
championship, he added.

“Take last week for example. I flew from the Midwest to Vernon (British
Columbia) on Thursday and returned home on Sunday at 2 a.m. then turned
around and flew to Canada again to work on car Tuesday and will head to
Montana Friday then fly home on Sunday. I don’t mind the traveling a bit
right now even though I’m not home a lot because we’re having a great
season so far.”

Friday’s race is a 100-lap shootout featuring Johnson, Craig, Ryan Fisher
and Ron Dexter representing SUPERSEAL against the likes of Gary Lewis,
Shelby Thompson, Mark Owens, Bodie Morton, Alex Lessor and 2008 ARCA West
champion Wes Rhodes as they battle for a $5,000 winner’s check and a
$16,000 total purse in the “Best of the West” showdown.

ARCA West Mac’s Series competitors take to the high-banked Montana Raceway
Park on Saturday night for a 150-lap event with over $15,000 in purse
available. Many of Friday’s teams are entered for both days of racing in
the Kalispell Toyota Tundra International Challenge to honor Bill Clark.

For more information log onto or call (406)
257-RACE (7223)

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.