Las Vegas: Team Mopar preview

RICHIE STEVENS JR. AND ALLEN JOHNSON HAVE GOOD REASON TO SAY VIVA LAS VEGAS AT SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS * Stevens looking to double-up at Las Vegas * With a recent finals appearance in the bank, Johnson aims to cash in * Richie ...

RICHIE STEVENS JR. AND ALLEN JOHNSON HAVE GOOD REASON TO SAY VIVA LAS VEGAS AT SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS

* Stevens looking to double-up at Las Vegas

* With a recent finals appearance in the bank, Johnson aims to cash in

* Richie Stevens Jr. stats

* Allen Johnson stats

* SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals event details

Center Line, Mich. -- Heading into the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals this weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Team Mopar® Pro Stockers Richie Stevens Jr. and Allen Johnson possess an optimism based on past success.

Stevens utilized J & J Racing-tuned HEMI® power to take his Team Mopar\Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T to the win last year at the fall Vegas event. Johnson, driver of the Mopar/J & J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T, qualified third and advanced all the way to the finals in the previous event at Houston, moving him up to the eighth spot in the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock points standings. Both drivers will look to build on those positive results when they do battle in the Vegas desert this weekend.

Stevens looking to double-up at Las Vegas

Stevens rebounded nicely from a tough outing at Gainesville, qualifying his Don Schumacher Racing-owned Dodge Stratus R/T sixth at Houston and taking his second round win of the year, before losing a battle of the teammates with Johnson in the quarterfinals. Bolstered by his solid Houston outing and his fall Vegas win, Stevens is looking to notch his name in the event win column for the first time in 2007 at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.

"We won the fall race at Vegas in 2006, so coming back is going to be uplifting for me," said Stevens. "It's a track that I've done decent at in the past. The weather is usually nice out there and the track is an awesome facility. I'm looking forward to getting back out there. It's a track that I've proven myself on and done real well at, and hopefully we can go and capitalize on what we did last year."

For some, the call of the Vegas nightlife might be a strong draw, but Stevens is focused on winning at the track, and not on the famed Vegas Strip.

"You have to know your limits," Stevens explained. "When I get on the track, I'm focused on one thing, and that's driving the car. We're saving the big party for Sunday."

Recent test sessions have also paid off for Stevens and Johnson, who both drive cars tuned by J & J Racings's Roy Johnson. If all goes well, one of the J & J drivers will be leaving Las Vegas with a Wally.

"We had a big test session before Houston, and we've been working on the cars a lot," said Stevens. "We've had the power all along. We're trying to get these cars to run identical, that way we can make similar calls on the cars. If I'm a few pairs ahead, and my car doesn't respond right, we can make the adjustments on Allen's car, and vice versa. Allen and I ran really well down in Houston, and I think we're getting things back on track. Hopefully we will show it this weekend in Vegas."

With a recent finals appearance in the bank, Johnson aims to cash in

Coming off his best outing of the year, Allen Johnson's goal is to keep the momentum rolling as the J & J Racing team heads to the Vegas strip for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. And although victory is always the ultimate goal, Johnson has his team focused on one main objective: consistency.

"What we're trying to do is qualify both Richie and I in the top eight," remarked Johnson. "We're trying to be more consistent on each run, get down the track, and build on each run. That's our main goal and focus, to really be consistent and be in the top eight in qualifying, instead of rolling the dice and going for broke, or setting up too conservative and ending up fourteenth."

Johnson's objective is to put both himself and Stevens in the top eight in points when the NHRA POWERade's Countdown to 4 cutoff hits. The new points system cuts the field down to the top eight drivers after the 17th race, with points readjusted in 10 point increments. After the 21st event, the field will be reduced to the top four drivers for the Countdown to 1 for the championship.

"We want to be consistent, be in the top eight in qualifying, and always go rounds on Sunday," Johnson again emphasized. "We want to work toward making the Countdown to 4."

-credit: tm

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Series NHRA
Drivers Richie Stevens Jr. , Allen Johnson , Don Schumacher , Roy Johnson