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VENTURA, Calif. (Dec. 2, 2019) – Chase Johnson reached the double-digit victory mark for the first time in his career last Friday when he captured his first career Turkey Night Grand Prix triumph.
Johnson scored his 10th win of the season and his second USAC West Coast Sprint Car victory to best a field of more than two dozen competitors at Ventura Raceway, where the finale of the 79th edition of the marquee event was postponed from Thanksgiving to Friday because of wet weather.
“We were fast right out of the box,” he said. “We mimicked the setup we had there from last year. We were really fast last year and I felt like we let one go. We wanted to start with that same speed. It ended up working out great.”
Johnson hustled from third to win a heat race and from fourth to claim a qualifier on Wednesday. That gave him the most overall points and the pole position for the dash. He led the majority of the race before finishing second.
“We didn’t want to do anything too wild to take us out of contention,” he said. “Being on the front row was important for that dash and then to be on the front row for the A Main was important on Friday.
“The second night we had all the rain and the track was really, really wet. That was definitely a tricky track and out of character. It looked like a motocross track out there. It was pretty wild. I didn’t have a certain line. I was trying to go where it was the most smooth for myself and my car. Most of the race was right around the middle. Through traffic I had to go to the higher side, which was a lot rougher. We were still able to make it work and get around race cars.”
Johnson led all 41 laps to capture the victory.
“Traffic was the biggest thing,” he said. “With that small of a track and starting 25 cars I knew traffic would be pretty interesting, especially with the conditions. The track wasn’t wide and racy like it was the night before. That was the biggest hurdle for us so we had to be smart, but at the same time we couldn’t sit there and waste time.
“It was really special to win. We’ve been going to Turkey Night for the sprint car portion since they moved it to Ventura. We really enjoy going there every year and every year I feel like we are really good. I knew we’d have a great shot at it. To win at Turkey Night and with all the history and all the attention on it was pretty cool.”
Johnson also set himself up for success in the midget portion of the event. He led a Tom Malloy owned entry to the second quickest qualifying time out of 68 drivers, earning a starting spot on the outside of the front row for the 98-lap main event on Friday.
“That was pretty cool to be second quick and we were quick time until the last three cars,” he said. “With my lack of experience in the midget and my first Turkey Night in the midget it was awesome to be that quick out of the gate.
“We didn’t get a great start at all in the feature. I felt like I was trying to set a good pace. Every lap or almost every corner we were getting hit by someone. I tried to overcome that and pushed it too hard and ended up getting in a rut and upside down.”
Johnson flipped on Lap 11 while running third. The incident broke the front axle and ended his night early.
QUICK RESULTS –
Nov. 27 – Ventura Raceway in Ventura, Calif. (sprint car) – Heat race: 1 (3); Qualifier: 1 (4); Dash: 2 (1).
Nov. 29 – Ventura Raceway in Ventura, Calif. (sprint car) – Feature: 1 (2).
Nov. 29 – Ventura Raceway in Ventura, Calif. (midget) – Qualifying: 2; Feature: DNF (2).
MEDIA LINKS –
Johnson has new t-shirts and hoodies for sale at his race trailer at every race he competes in this season. T-shirts are $25 each and hoodies are $35 apiece.
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT – Johnny Franklin’s Mufflers
With California locations in Santa Rosa and San Rafael, Johnny Franklin’s Mufflers has been a leader in the service industry for mufflers, drivelines and hitches for more than 50 years.
“Johnny Franklin’s Muffler has been with me since Day 1 of my racing career,” Johnson said. “With their two locations in both Sonoma and Marin County’s makes for no excuse to not stop by and get a free quote on making your street car sound like my race car. Family own and ran since 1961, you feel the family atmosphere instantly. For not only your exhaust and muffler needs, Johnny Franklin’s also can take care of your driveline and hitch issues. Visit them today and tell them I sent you.”
Johnson would also like to thank Fire Suppression Engineering, PitStopUSA.com, Newman Freeman Racing, Flowmaster, Woodland Napa Auto Parts, VanLare Steering Repair, Wesmar Racing Engines, Wings Unlimited, Schoenfeld Headers, Bell Helmets, LRB Race Products, Champion Machine, Swift Metal Finishing and Chevron Pro-Gas for their continued support.