Indianapolis, IN. December 04, 2004-Ken Smith today announced the signing of Jarit Johnson, the 25-year-old racer and younger brother of Nextel Cup star Jimmie Johnson. "Jarit is committed to racing and willing to do whatever it takes." Smith said. "This is the perfect fit within our organization and we have a lot of work to do over the next few months sorting out the future." SS Racing has an alliance with NEXTEL Cup powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports and hopes that Jarit will soon join Hendrick's growing driver development program.
"It is our goal to be racing fulltime in the ASA and part-time in the Craftsman Truck Series, however, if the ASA does not have clear direction during the month of December, we will be forced to move our attention 100% to Craftsman Truck Series" Smith said. "We made our entry into the CTS in 2004, and are making preparation to run a limited schedule in 2005 sharing driving duties with Butch and Jarit." SS Racing has competed in the ASA since 2001, collecting 7 wins, 20 top 5's and 30 top 10's in only 47 starts.
While Jimmie's career began in off-road trucks, the younger Johnson started in the entry level Limited Late Model Stocks at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway in 2004. "My goal in 2004 was to gain some experience and learn," Jarit said. "I went out there and tried to finish in the top five and get seat time." Jarit previously competed in a Spec Truck division at his hometown track, Cajon Speedway in El Cajon, Calif., before moving to North Carolina.
Being the younger brother of a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver who has had as much success as Jimmie can be intimidating for a driver on the verge of his career, but it can also very helpful. "Jimmie does not pump me full of information but rather just let's me go out and learn. I always take advice from him because he obviously knows cars and has had tremendous success. Everything he says, I take in and it helps," Jarit said.
When he's not racing, Jarit will work fulltime for SS Racing assisting in it's growing Driver Development Program which includes Hendrick Motorsport's driver Chase Austin, splitting time at the Indianapolis home base with Deneau and satellite Charlotte shop with Miller.
"I want to thank Ken for this opportunity and belief in me." Said Jarit. "Working with SSR allows me to mentor with one of the greatest short track racers, Butch Miller and learn about the car from a leading crew chief Deon Deneau. I'd love to move up through the ranks with Ken and get into a NASCAR Craftsman Truck, Busch Series car and, eventually, be in the Nextel Cup Series. But it's a long road."
SS Racing continues to make plans for 2005 and further announcements are expected in the coming weeks. For more information, log on to ssracingonline.com