Australian Sprintcar driver Max Johnston has secured a one-off deal that will see him make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Eldora Speedway this week.
The Sydneysider has inked a deal with Young’s Motorsport to race the No. 02 Chevy Silverado at the dirt track classic, with backing coming from agriculture retailer Brandt.
The deal comes after more than a year of Johnston working to break into the US racing scene.
“This time last year I messaged the owner of Brandt on Facebook, I did the old creepy stalk and I found him,” Johnston told Motorsport.com.
“It’s been a work in progress since then. They’re already in NASCAR, they’re already involved, so I’m incredibly lucky to get this opportunity. I’m pretty speechless, to be honest.”
While he’s an experienced dirt track racer, Johnston is a NASCAR rookie in every sense of the word. He’s yet to actually drive a Truck, but is set to do so Friday, US time in Mooresville. He will then be thrown straight into the deep end when practice starts at Eldora on Tuesday.
“I drive it tomorrow in Mooresville; I’ll get to start it up, drive it around, and change gears,” he added. “Then it’s pretty much turn up to the track next Tuesday and do two 55-minute practice sessions.
“I’ve driven a development series Supercar back home [in Australia], and I raced national-level karts, so I don’t think I should have any dramas with the car.
“To be honest I love jumping in the deep end, and the best part is that I don’t have any bad habits from racing on the asphalt like some of the other guys might have.
“It doesn’t bother me, it’s got a steering wheel and pedals. I’ll put it up against the fence and I should be right.”
While the deal is currently a one-off, Johnston is hoping that it’s the beginning of a long-term stint in the NASCAR system. He’s set his sights on a career on the bitumen, looking to become the next Aussie to break into the sport following Marcos Ambrose’s success several years back.
“I grew up doing karting on bitumen, and that’s where I wanted to be but I just couldn’t afford it back home,” he said.
“I thought coming here to the US I’ve got a point of difference, I can use my nationality to bring something to NASCAR. We saw it with Marcos Ambrose, and I think there’s an opportunity there for a young Aussie to come in and do well.
“This is only a one-race deal for now, but Brandt is a big company and they love motorsport.
“So my plan is to run well, try and win the thing, and we’ll see what happens from there.”