Luke Johnson Makes Successful PRO-Lite Debut in Perris

Trabuco Canyon, CA (September 29, 2009) - After a successful rookie season, finishing second in points, in the TORC Sportsman Limited 2 division, Luke Johnson entered his next stage of his short-course off-road racing career, competing in the PRO-Light ranks. Luke was able to secure sponsorship from Traxxas, KMC Wheels, BFGoodrich Tires, and AMSOIL to put together a four race package to finish out the 2009 season. This gives the seventeen year old more seat time, and the opportunity to compete on the PRO level before making a decision on what class to run during the 2010 season.

The Leroy Leorwald PRO-Light Toyota Tacoma is vastly different from the Limited 2 Chevy Silverado that Luke raced back in the Midwest. The truck itself is powered by a 300 horsepower four cylinder engine, the suspension has only 12-14 inches of travel, and uses a 4-speed manual transmission.

Friday Night - Round 13

With just more than a handful of laps behind the wheel of the #48 Traxxas AMSOIL KMC Wheels Oakley JS Pest Control BFGoodrich Tires Toyota Tacoma, Luke Johnson qualified tenth in the fifteen truck field. As the laps continued through the twenty lap event, Luke was getting more comfortable with the characteristics of the PRO-Light Toyota as well as the competitors around him. After twenty laps, Luke crossed the finish line, with all the body panels intact, in eighth place.

Afterwards Luke mentioned the biggest difference between the Limited 2 and PRO-Lite trucks was the suspension. The shorter suspension travel made for a much harsher ride, and that would probably translate into a sore back after the weekend.

The next morning Leroy Loerwald and his crew prepped the truck and deemed it race ready well before the only practice and qualifying session of the afternoon. Luke was definitely getting more at ease with the truck as his best lap time was the second fastest of the nine trucks needing to qualify on time.

Saturday Night - Round 14

The near capacity crowd at Perris Auto Speedway watched Luke and his Traxxas AMSOIL Toyota line up on the outside of row four for the rolling start. Right away Luke had his Toyota in a battle with the Friday night winner, Chris Brandt. The two went back and forth until a flat rear took Brandt off the pace.

Then nothing but yellow was now in front of the #48 Toyota. The two trucks of Oberg and Cunningham were now trying to fend off the Traxxas AMSOIL Toyota. Then on the lap after the mandatory yellow Luke rolled his truck when he clipped the large tractor tire course marker attempting a pass inside of Cunningham. A full course caution was implemented, giving Luke a little more time to re-fire the truck and get to the back of the line. When green flag racing resumed, the Traxxas AMSOIL KMC Wheels Toyota continued to run hard and stayed away from any more carnage to cross the finish in fifth place.

"I wanted to come out here to get some seat time so I could really make the final weekend in Vegas my best performance," noted Luke Johnson. "This past summer has been an incredible experience not only racing, but meeting and making new friends across the country. I have to thank Traxxas, AMSOIL, Racing Dirty, KMC Wheels, and BFGoodrich Tires, for helping me put this Pro- Light ride together, as well as Leroy Leorwald for the great prep work. The team really gave me a great truck to drive, and I hope to really show my talents in Las Vegas."

You can watch all the Round 14 action, including the PRO-Light race, Sunday, October 4, at 11:30am eastern on ESPN2.

The final weekend of the 2009 Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL is October 23-24 at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

-credit: ljPR