Caleb Johnson Gaining Experience in Carolina Pro Late Model Series

Rookie driver making fourth Pro Late Model start at Goodyear All American Speedway.


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Rookie driver Caleb Johnson is hoping to gain valuable experience when the Carolina Pro Late Model Series makes its debut at Goodyear All American Speedway on Saturday.

Johnson, 14, from Denver, Colorado, began racing Quarter Midgets when he was five before making the move up to a Pro Late Model this season. Teamed up with E33 Motorsports, a development program for NASCAR Cup Series team Rick Ware Racing, Johnson has two top-10 finishes in the Carolina Pro Late Model Series this season – with his best effort being an eighth place run at Virginia’s Franklin County Speedway.

So far, the primary goal for Johnson has been learning the cars, tracks, competition, and tire conservation.

“The big thing so far has been learning with new competition and new people, just trying to see who to be around, who’s your teammate, who to stay away from, and mainly just the tracks,” Johnson said. “Big difference between Quarter Midget tracks and Pro Late Model tracks. Definitely the tires too, and with the shortages, it’s been hard to kind of adapt to a new car, but it’s still been a really fun experience.”

The Pro Late Models, which are different from the Limited Late Models that typically run at Goodyear All American Speedway, feature a purpose built straight-rail chassis. The Carolina Pro Late Models weigh less than the Limited Late Models, run crate engines, have more brake, and more rear adjustment which should help the drivers conserve tires during the course of the 100-lap race.

Tire conservation will still be key on Saturday and it’s already something Johnson is focusing on.

“I’ve been learning different lines on this track and using the lines to help the tires be good in the long runs, and not just eating them up the first 15 laps trying to get the lead,” Johnson commented. “From my standpoint, it’s tires to run the car on. As long as we’re still out here racing, I’m having fun and the crew’s having fun.”

Being affiliated with Rick Ware Racing has allowed Johnson to lean on other drivers, such as NASCAR driver Garrett Smithley, for advice and learn more about the sport.

“Being around ARCA Drivers and being at NASCAR races, seeing what the mentality is for Rick Ware’s drivers and the team has been helpful for the long run,” Johnson stated. “In my future goals of going to NASCAR, it’s heen helpful to see how close it is to Pro Late Models. [Garrett Smithley] has been at a couple races and been a really good coach, so I’ve been trying to learn from him for tracks that he’s been to.”

On Saturday night, Johnson’s goal is to score another top-10 finish at a track that none of the series regulars have competed at.

“It’s going to be a level playing field for everyone since this is a generally new track that nobody’s really been to,” Johnson explained. “I feel like we definitely have a greater chance knowing nobody else has been to this track. We’ve had a really strong run this year and, with this team and these cars, I feel like we’re due for another top-10 finish.”

Johnson enters Saturday’s race seventh in Carolina Pro Late Model Series points.

Along with the Pro Late Models, Saturday’s Carolina 250 will also feature the Atlantic Turfscapes Super Truck Series, Carolina Crate Modified Series, Champ Karts, and Mini Stocks. Tickets are available at the gate on race day for $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and military with ID, $5 for kids ages 6-12, while kids five (5) and under are free. Trackside parking is also available.

The race will also air live on Racing America.