Justin Johnson was in the eighth grade the last time the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway produced a NASCAR division champion. But the 20-year old Las Vegan has moved into prime position to make a run at the Division III championship for the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series.

Johnson, driver of the No.17 Al Budd-owned Sunworld Super Late Model, has moved into second place in the divisional standings. Should Johnson win the division title, he would be the first Las Vegan since Dick Cobb in 2000 to win a NASCAR regional championship.

Johnson, who has 652 NASCAR points, is trailing first-place driver Dick Dunlevy, Jr. from Xenia, Ohio's Kil-Kare Raceway by 162 points. While that may seem like a large differential, Johnson has five fewer starts then Dunlevy. Under the NASCAR scoring system, only the drivers' 16 best finishes will count in the season standings. Drivers can score a maximum of 70 points per race.

Johnsons doesn't seem concerned about the differential. Dunlevy has five more starts than Johnson, who has five wins and nine top-five finishes in 10 starts.

"Hey, it doesn't really matter too much. In the end, you can only count 16 starts," Johnson said. "I'm not really getting hyped about it. The team probably won't start putting any focus or thought into the whole regional title until we get closer to the end of the season.  I kind of feel like the competition is more competitive here on the west coast compared to the east coast. I'm not saying that we (west coast drivers) are better drivers then they (east coast drivers) are. I'm just saying that the level of competition is higher out here."

While Johnson is pursuing the Division III championship, he also has his hands full trying to win the track championship.

Scott Gafforini, who swept both ends of the Chris Trickle Father's Day doubleheader last Saturday night, is just 19 points behind Johnson. Gafforini has three wins, seven top-fives and has placed in the top 10 in all 10 of his starts.

"Our goal, as a team, is to go out and run in the top-five," said Johnson.  "If we just run our own races and can consistently keep running in that top-five range, then I think we have a shot."

The next chance for either driver to pad their points is this Saturday at the Bullring.

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