By Ted Yerzyk


For some time now, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been Tommy Johnson¿s favorite of the 20 race tracks on the NHRA POWERade circuit. Ask the Iowa native what his preferred race track is and without hesitation, he¿ll respond, ¿Vegas.¿ And if he has to pick either the spring or fall Las Vegas event, it¿s the April race because of the past success that the Skoal RacingSM driver has experienced at that event.


¿It¿s a real fun place,¿ Johnson said. ¿There¿s just something about that place that¿s fun for me. I seem to do well there and that always helps. It¿s not just a great race track, the town is so much fun and when you¿ve had success at a place, that makes it even more fun to see that date on the schedule. Plus, it¿s a Bruton (Smith) track, and they¿re all great to race at.¿


In April 2001, Johnson scored the win at The Strip in just his fourth race as a member of Don Prudhomme Racing. It was the fifth win of the veteran driver¿s career. A year later, Johnson posted a runner-up finish at the spring Las Vegas race, followed by a semifinal finish in ¿03, which is why last year¿s DNQ still irritates the now six-time NHRA winner and provides the ultimate motivation to return to his past success at The Strip when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series makes the first of two visits to the Silver State, April 14-17, for the sixth annual NHRA Nationals.


¿I think last year was a fluke,¿ Johnson said. ¿We only had two qualifying runs because of rain. I¿m just hoping for good weather this time. Anytime we have bad weather or rain-shortened sessions, we seem to have back luck. We ran very well in testing at Las  Vegas in January and I think we¿ll go back there and do well. Our car is running really well, so I don¿t see why we can¿t put our Monte Carlo back in the winner¿s circle at (Las) Vegas.¿


Johnson¿s strong testing outing at The Strip helped vault Don  Prudhomme¿s Funny Car team to a victory at the season-opening Winternationals and broke an 89-race winless drought for the   Indianapolis-based racer. Johnson¿s near four-year string without a victory dated back to April 2001 where he scored the win at, you guessed it, his favorite track, The Strip at LVMS.


¿I hope that what happens in Vegas doesn¿t stay in Vegas this weekend,¿ Johnson said. ¿I want to win and I want everybody know about it. Especially if it¿s Snake¿s 100th win.¿


Tickets for the sixth annual NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway April 14-17 may be purchased by calling (702) 644-4444 or online at