John Force has won 14 NHRA world championships and 128 races, but on Saturday, one of his youngest fans picked up his first major drag racing victory.

K.J. Desa, a rising fourth grader at Perkins Elementary in North Las Vegas, won the 8-9 year old division in the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League Western Conference Finals at Bandimere Speedway in Denver. Desa, who was representing the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, defeated Tori Greene of Alaska's North Star Speedway in the final round.

"It’s my first full year of racing so I was kind of nervous," said Desa, who says John Force is his drag racing hero. “It was really exciting though, and I’m glad I won.”

Desa was chosen by the staff of Las Vegas Motor Speedway to represent The Strip in the conference meet. The team finished fourth overall behind conference champion Wichita Raceway Park from Iowa City, Texas.

But Desa, who turned 9 in May, was the star of the Las Vegas team. His reaction time of .078 in his 2003 Spitzer gave him a huge early advantage over Greene. Desa also posted a quicker ET than Greene and easily coasted to the victory in the final round.

For the young Las Vegas racer, it was a family and team effort.

“He has a lot of people to thank, and they are all very important to him,” said K.J.’s father Keoki. “Nana and Papa were there and are at almost all of his races and his sister, Cheyenne, who also races, has been a big inspiration to get him going in this. We have some key sponsors in Lucal Oil, Aloha Signs and Fred at Crews Racing that have been a big part of what we do. And we really appreciate all of the Division 7 competitors and the staff of Las Vegas Motor Speedway for giving us this opportunity.”

Desa recently clinched the Short Line Express Markets Jr. Drag Racing Series Spring Championship at LVMS and will begin competing in the fall championship in September.