World of Outlaws–At A Glance: Jason Johnson Reflects On 2015, Prepares for the Future

At A Glance: Jason Johnson Reflects On 2015, Prepares for the Future
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series takes on Eldora Speedway for the 4-Crown Nationals and Berlin Raceway for the NAPA Berlin Brawl
CONCORD, N.C. – Sept. 22, 2015 – Jason Johnson entered 2015 ready to take on his first full World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series season and while the year has not shaped up like he planned, Johnson remains focused on learning, growing and getting his No. 41 Priority Aviation/Mesilla Valley Transportation/Fischer Body Shop team back to victory lane.

The five-time and reigning American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) National Tour champion talked to the World of Outlaws about his season so far and what the future looks like for his team.

We’re heading to Eldora this weekend for the 4-Crown Nationals – the last time the series was there for Kings Royal you finished second. Talk about that run.

“Probably for us the dark side of things is that we’re struggling in qualifying. Qualifying seems to be hindering us all year long. One advantage of the Kings Royal is that it takes qualifying out of the equation a little bit. I don’t think we qualified very well which put us on the front row of our heat race and we raced decently. We capitalized on a heat race win – I think we started sixth in the Kings Royal. To end up on the podium, we feel like we have speed, our driver just needs to learn how to qualify.”

We talked in February at DIRTcar Nationals about expectations for the season. Despite being sidelined earlier in the year, it looks like you and your team have made a lot of progress.

“We definitely made progress. We set goals throughout the year that we’ve had to change up to the point that I got hurt. We had to change our team goals as we brought in championship winning drivers such as Jason Meyers and Sammy Swindell and trying to use them to better our team and advance us a little faster.

“When I first got back in the car it seemed like it changed things really fast. We’ve been actually pretty decent since I got back in the car. It’s getting back to point where we’re not qualifying as well. I’m not sure exactly where things are going but with the Outlaws you’ve got to put the whole night together and that’s the biggest challenge. Right now, goal wise, we’re making feature but we’d like to be a top-10 contender more often.”

How helpful was it to have a driver like Sammy Swindell in the car while you were out?

“He was very generous with his knowledge. He taught us all a lot about shocks, about racecars, I mean all the way down to motor packages and aero and wings. (He maybe showed us a) different way of approaching the race track each and every night. We used to be really concentrated on our wing package and he made the point not to concentrate on aero as much because if you’re not in clean air you still need the car to work well. He brought a lot to the table.

“Even Jason Meyers, we developed a friendship there. He shared a lot of thoughts and notes and concerns with us. He’s helped us and is still helping us today. When we had Jamie Veal in the car driving it was like a trial period. He had a lot of success in Australia and we had a lot of fun with Jamie. We just weren’t a veteran enough team to give him a good enough car night in and night out.”

As we work our way through the final stretch of 2015, what are your goals to the end of the season?

“We’d definitely like to pull off a win before the end of the season. That’s probably the ultimate goal at this point. I had high hopes that we were going to have three to five wins this year and it was probably going to be more realistic to win one to three races. It just hasn’t fallen out that way. I think there was times where I was in captain’s seat to pull off victories and have a good run and just didn’t capitalize on that opportunity but we came away with a podium. It meant a lot too. These opportunities don’t come along every day – you’ve got to keep digging and keep striving.

“As a team we’re getting better, we’re getting more functional as a team. A lot of the things that we didn’t think about before the beginning of the season, how much travel is involved and planning and other things besides being at the racetrack. It takes a toll on you. My guys have done a great job. I’m proud of Phillip and Cole for sure. I can’t thank them for all the support we’ve had. It’s been a lot of fun.”

What has been your biggest takeaway from your first season with the World of Outlaws?

“Probably for me, the hardest thing is where I came from I was always the winner. That’s what you build your team on is winning. That’s what keeps your guys motivated and your guys working day in and day out. That’s what keep your sponsors motivated as well – wanting to be part of a winning success. One of the biggest challenges this year is not finding the winners circle and trying to keep the motivation going – from the guys every day, to answering the phone and working with the sponsors. Obviously they really want the exposure on and off the track but they also want to be successful, they want to stand in victory lane.”

Have you firmed up your plans for next season yet?

“Things are looking really good for returning, making another go with the Outlaws. I’m probably more excited the following season just as much as I am for this season. A lot of things caught us off guard being out here for the rookie season, dealing with the motors and cars and wings. We got to see a lot, a lot of places new for the first time. Now that we feel like we think we know what we need next year, we need to change our program up a little bit next year. Hopefully we can come out a lot stronger and a lot more successful.”

In addition to Eldora Speedway, we take on Berlin Raceway this weekend. It’s a newer track for the series and a new track for you. What are your expectations for that track?

“I had a lot of first times this year. I’ll take it in for what it is. That’s one thing about the Outlaws – a lot of teams have been really generous with their notes and helping give us starting points on gears and where we need to be. We just need to kind of base it on where we’ve had success throughout the season and what the track shape is and where we’ve been and make the right adjustments throughout the night.”

See Johnson and the rest of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series regulars take on the 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway on Friday night and the dirt-covered, paved-oval of Berlin Raceway for the NAPA Berlin Brawl on Saturday night. To find out more information and to learn how to purchase tickets, visit