Justin Johnson Racing announced that 17-year-old Kaden Honeycutt will join his driver development program for a full-time season in the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour, along with select standalone events in 2021.
Although Honeycutt has almost no experience with competing in Late Models ahead of the 2021 season, he has started to grow comfortable with Johnson’s operation and is confident that he can compete for wins in the CARS LMSC Tour this year.
“I am excited about running this season with Justin,” Honeycutt said. “Testing this last weekend at Orange County Speedway was certainly a different challenge driving-wise. The Super Late Model I’m used to driving and a Late Model Stock are two completely different cars, but I adapted quickly and started driving harder and harder each run. This team is very professional and they know what they’re doing.”
Coming from a dirt racing background, Honeycutt has gradually transitioned into pavement racing over the past couple of the years with limited appearances in the Southern Super Series and ARCA Menards Series. Honeycutt recorded two Top 10 ARCA finishes during the 2019 season, while 2020 saw Honeycutt emerge as a contender in SSS with a second and a third at Five Flags Speedway.
Honeycutt’s strong runs at Five Flags helped prepare him for the prestigious Snowball Derby at the track on Dec. 6, 2020. After starting on the outside pole, Honeycutt led 26 laps before settling for a strong fifth place finish in front of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series veteran Grant Enfinger and two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, among others.
Johnson, who attempted to qualify for the Snowball Derby but ultimately failed to make the main event, was impressed with the composure that Honeycutt showed against so many talented drivers and wanted him to join his Late Model program so that he could be better prepared to progress through the developmental ladder.
“I feel like [Kaden] is the perfect fit for our program,” Johnson said. “I honestly believe with the speed and feedback he has shown he can help our growth as much as we can help his. Kaden’s performance and professionalism on and off the track speaks for itself. The team and I believe in him 100 percent, and the potential is there for him to be the next superstar.
Johnson will compete for the CARS LMSC Tour championship alongside Honeycutt, but he admitted that his focus is gradually shifting towards the future of his organization and is planning to step away from full-time competition in 2022 so he can guide drivers who wish to have a career in one of NASCAR’s top divisions.
Johnson is fully aware that his partnership with Honeycutt will only be short-term, but he believes that Honeycutt’s ability to quickly adapt to Late Models gives him a great chance to immediately contend for wins and is looking forward to observing how his first developmental driver approaches each race on the CARS LMSC Tour schedule.
“As I reach my mid-30’s, having drivers like Kaden is extremely rewarding and makes it easier and easier to step away from the driver seat,” Johnson said. “Of course, we wish we had the luxury to have Kaden for more than one year, but we intend to win enough races in 2021 and put Kaden in a position to be ready to step up the ladder if the opportunity presents itself. We are incredibly lucky to have teamed with Kaden this year, and we look forward to winning some races and competing for a championship in the CARS Tour.”
Honeycutt expects to be challenged plenty as he embarks on his first full-time CARS LMSC Tour season and competes on tracks such as Wake County Speedway, Motor Mile Speedway and Rockingham Speedway. Despite the unknowns, Honeycutt is determined to prove himself alongside former champions in Jared Fryar and Bobby McCarty and is ready to bring a title home for Johnson.
“My goal is to make a statement this season and run for the win in every event we go to. I will have the team to do it. The rest will be up to me. I want to say thank you to Race Face Advancement and to everyone who has helped me in any way to get to this point in my young career. 2021 is going to be a fun season.”
Honeycutt and Johnson will take part in their first race together on Saturday when the duo travel to Florence Motor Speedway for the Icebreaker. The green flag for the 125-lap Late Model feature will drop at approximately 3 p.m.
Photo by Kaden Honeycutt Racing