Johnson shows impressive speed during Chris Griffis Memorial Test
 December 16, 2013| 
  • Team News

MOUNT MORRIS, MI. - After a two day private test at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans last week, paralyzed racer Michael Johnson headed to Barber Motorsport Park for the third annual Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test.

Accommodated by Kyle Connery, Jose Enrique Lopez, Harrison Scott and Nicolas Costa joining Johnson as JDC MotorSports teammates during the two-day test, Johnson showed impressive speed during both days finishing in the top 10 in three out of the four practice sessions. He ended up posting the 10th fastest time overall out of 19 drivers who participated in the official Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires test at Barber.

"It was really cold on both days and two of the sessions started under wet track conditions but I am really happy with how both days went,” said Johnson. “We still have ways to go to improve the car and the new hand controls, which are totally different from the setup we used the last two years in the USF2000 program.

"I think it's fair to say that overall the Pro Mazda car fits me better than the USF2000 car. I simply can feel the car much better and it is much more responsive to my driving style so it's really fun driving it. This was also the first time I ran at Barber, but it is a really nice track with a good flow to it which I like a lot.

"We are still working to improve the hand control setup and we made really good improvements to the braking system during the last couple of private tests but you never know how competitive you really are until you run directly against other teams, so it's great to know that we are in the ballpark.

"My engine was on the end of its life cycle and it was hard to keep up on the straights, so counting that in our times we probably would have been another 0.3-0.5 seconds quicker. That would have put us around P5 overall, right where Kyle was ending up, so at least for the test here we know we would have been competitive.”

The team will pick up testing again in January after the holidays in preparation for the 2014 season start, which kicks off with the pre-season Cooper Tires Winterfest on February 21st and 22nd at NOLA Motorsport Park before heading back again to Barber on February 25th and 26th.

About - Michael Johnson
Twenty-one year old paralyzed racer Michael Johnson is the first and only paralyzed licensed INDYCAR driver. Johnson was on his way to becoming a professional motorcycle racer, having won races and championships at regional and national levels, when on August 13, 2005 he was involved in an on-track racing accident which left him paralyzed from the mid-chest down.

After several years of recovery Johnson has started racing and winning again and now has set his goal to become the first paralyzed driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500.

Johnson drives his specially modified race car with hand controls and he became the first paralyzed racer to win in an open-wheel formula car during round two of the Skip Barber Summer Series at Watkins Glen International Raceway in 2011. He went on to claim two further victories at Road America, and finished the 2011 season with three wins, one pole position, four third-place podiums and several top-five finishes.

In 2012 Johnson moved up to the Cooper Tires USF2000 National Powered by Mazda with championship-winning team JDC MotorSports. This is step one of the “Mazda Road to Indy” program.

In his first year as a professional licensed INDYCAR driver Johnson had several top-10 finishing positions in qualifying and races on his way to 15th position overall in the series. Michael is, once again, competing with JDC MotorSports in the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

Follow Johnson on Facebook@michaeljohnsonracing, Twitter @racer54iscool and Instagram @johnsonracing54.

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