“Las Vegas is a track I’ve always enjoyed racing at and I’m really looking forward to this week’s event,” said Johnson. “We’ve always had a pretty good setup and notes for Vegas and have run well there over the years. Having won there earlier this year definitely boosts our confidence going back for the second time.”
“We tested at Las Vegas last weekend, which I think helped quite a bit,” said Johnson. “That’s a track that we have tested at a lot at over the years. I would say behind Denver, we have tested the second-most at Vegas. Usually all of that prep work helps you be more prepared, and most times pays off.”
The Team Mopar veteran has been near the top of the Pro Stock class in qualifying all season, leading the way with 10 No. 1 Qualifier awards, including six in a row at one point. Johnson has started the weekend sixth or better in qualifying at each of the 21 events contested thus far in 2012. At Las Vegas in the spring, he began his march to the win as the No. 3 qualifier.
“We are really focusing on each run in qualifying and on Sunday in eliminations, and just taking it round-by-round,” said Johnson. “That’s the approach that has gotten us to where we are right now and we aren’t going to change that. If you’re successful in those rounds, you’ll be successful in the points.”
Johnson opened the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs as the No. 1 seed, has been on top of the standings following each of the first four rounds, and currently holds an 82-point advantage on his nearest competitor. The native of Greeneville, Tenn., has advanced to the final round in three of the first four races of the Countdown, winning in the second round at Dallas.
Jeg Coughlin Jr., driver of the Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Avenger, has five Pro Stock wins at Las Vegas in six final round appearances. The native of Delaware, Ohio, also won a special-event in his Pro Stock car at the venue in 2008. Coughlin has been the No. 1 Qualifier at Las Vegas twice in his career as well. The four-time Pro Stock champion enters this weekend eighth in the Countdown and is less than 30 points out of the seventh spot.
In Funny Car, Jack Beckman and Ron Capps will continue their title fight at Las Vegas. The pair of Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T drivers out of the Don Schumacher Racing stable are separated by just 23 points with Beckman out front with two races remaining. Teammate Johnny Gray, who has won twice this year, heads to Las Vegas fourth in points. Matt Hagan, the defending Funny Car champion, has reached the final round at Las Vegas twice and also has earned a No.1 Qualifier honor at the venue. The native of Christiansburg, Va., has reached the final round four times this season as he chases his first win of the year.