One of Wisconsin’s best is returning to the Snowball Derby next weekend, with an expanded schedule for the event.
Two-time ARCA Midwest Tour champion Casey Johnson is scheduled to pull double-duty at Five Flags Speedway, making his Snowflake 100 debut as well as the Snowball Derby. It will be his second appearance at Super Late Model racing’s biggest show.
While there’s no Pro Late Model racing in the upper Midwest, he does have one Pro Late Model start under his belt, finishing third in the World Series of Asphalt finale at New Smyrna back in February. Johnson believes his experience with Super and Limited Late Models in Wisconsin will help with getting acclimated in the Pro Late Model.
“We’re going to have a Pro Late and a Super Late. Last year we went down there to get our feet wet and kind of did just that. We were able to pick up a Pro Late motor so we figured we’d try both this year.”
“Up here, our weekly stuff runs on two barrels, which takes a little bit of the horsepower away so I think it’ll kind of compare to the Pro Late stuff. I don’t think it’ll be too far off from what we’re used to.”
After winning multiple championships in each of the previous three years, he claimed just one in 2021, winning Wisconsin International Raceway’s Red, White and Blue State Championship Series title. What he lacked in championships from previous years was made up with marquee wins – he won the Howie Lettow Memorial at Madison, then followed it up with a victory at Oktoberfest.
Johnson made his debut at the Snowball Derby last year, failing to make the race after missing the 30-car cutoff in qualifying by just two cars. He admitted that he and his crew were caught off guard by the track’s abrasive surface and how tight the field would be.
“Last year we didn’t do any pre-testing, we thought we could roll down there with our base package and roll in and run top-ten like we usually do, but obviously we bit off more than what we could chew there. That track just didn’t compare to anything I’ve ran before as far as how it really just rips the tires off the car. We were able to gain a lot of notes and when we got back we were able to test what we had. We’re coming back with a whole new look on things.”
We thought we could roll down there with our base package and roll in and run top-ten like we usually do, but obviously we bit off more than what we could chew there. That track just didn’t compare to anything I’ve ran before as far as how it really just rips the tires off the car.
Last year’s Derby now has Johnson pulling double-duty with the Super and the Pro with the hopes of getting more laps around the half-mile.
“I mean it just gets me more laps. The two cars are similar as far as chassis and suspension and things like that. The more laps we get out there the more comfortable I’ll get with the track. I think we can translate notes from one to the other as well.”
Even after last year’s miss, Johnson’s goals for his second Snowball Derby appearance remain largely the same. After two major wins in his home state in the final weeks of the Midwest racing season, he heads to Florida with a shot of confidence.
“To be honest, it’s to put her in the show and finish top-ten in both at least. I never go to a racetrack thinking we shouldn’t win and realistically, it’s a huge show but I still have the same outlook. As long as we get the cars to where we know they should be I have all the confidence in the world, I think we should be able to run up front.”