You won't find him in an Olympic swimming pool or vaulting from the men's parallel bars, but 22-year-old Bullring driver Justin Johnson is going for the gold just the same.  Johnson is one of 12 INEX drivers who will compete in Elko, Minn., on Oct. 2-4, for the opportunity to drive an ARCA RE/MAX Series stock car in the Toledo ARCA 200 at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 12.

Johnson, who competes in the Thunder Roadster division at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, has won 11 of 12 Saturday-night races held in 2008 and currently leads the points chase. INEX 600 Racing is the manufacturer and sanctioning body for Thunder Roadsters.

Johnson and another eligible Bullring racer (Josh Gross or Jared Carpenter - to be determined by a drawing) will represent the Las Vegas region in the Race to the Top Challenge.  Two drivers from each of the six INEX regions will participate in the Race to the Top Challenge and the winner will be guaranteed a ride in the Cunningham Motorsports No. 4 Dodge at Toledo.  The ARCA RE/MAX cars are very similar to NASCAR racers and the series often is used as a feeder division to give rookies the necessary seat time before they graduate to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series or NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.

The Cunningham Motorsports team (www.cunninghammotorsports.net) announced in June that an official developmental partnership had been formed with Penske Racing in Mooresville, N.C.  Through this partnership, Penske Racing will work with the Cunningham Motorsports teams racing in USAC Midget, ARCA RE/MAX Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition. Penske Racing will also help develop the talented young drivers in the Cunningham Motorsports program as well as identify potential crew and team members to add to its staff in the future. In addition, the partnership will provide Penske Racing another source for testing as well as engine and chassis development.
Johnson is looking forward to competing for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"If I get an ARCA ride it would be great," said Justin, who raced in N.C. on Aug. 15 and flew back to Las Vegas to compete at the Bullring Aug. 16.  "It's everything we strive for on the west coast - trying to get a ride without (having) a lot of money.

"I wish it could happen for all the young drivers out here - not just me - but they're only taking the top two.

"I raced in North Carolina just to get to know the guys back there and see what the new body style will be like. (Thunder Roadsters will undergo a change in body styling for 2009.)  I wanted to get to know some of the guys I'm going to race against in Elko.  North Carolina is fun - I'd love to live there.  I want to try to move there sometime next year.  I've been running at the Bullring for 10 years, so I'd like a change, even if I don't get an ARCA ride."

Johnson will race his familiar orange No. 17 Thunder Roadster in Elko.  Before heading to Minn., he'll compete in the final two regular-season races at the Bullring, on Aug.30 and Sept. 13.  Should Johnson earn the Cunningham ARCA ride, his Las Vegas-area fans may watch him compete at Toledo live on SPEED TV.

For more information about the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, please call (702) 644-4444 or visit www.LVMS.com.