Bullring champ Johnson to make LVMS debut at World of Westgate 200
Four-time Bullring track champion and Las Vegas native Justin Johnson will make his Las Vegas Motor Speedway debut in the World of Westgate 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race on Friday, Sept. 13.
The 34-year-old ran four Truck Series races in 2011 - notching a top-10 finish in Phoenix - but will be competing at the 1.5-mile speedway in his hometown for the first time. Johnson - the 2016-17 NASCAR Super Late Models champion at The Bullring - will drive the No. 08 Toyota for Kart Idaho Racing owned by John Wood and Travis Milburn, with Sonny Wahl serving as his crew chief.
Being selected to drive at his home track is a dream come true for Johnson.
"It's pretty awesome, because I've been wanting to run at that track my whole childhood since I grew up at The Bullring," said Johnson, who also has won Bullring track titles in the Thunder Cars and USLCI Bandolero Outlaws divisions. "Getting the chance to do it is going to be pretty cool, especially since I didn't think I was going to be able to do it after I had my opportunity in the trucks in 2011. As of right now, it's just a one-race deal, and we'll just try to keep it clean and have fun."
The accomplished driver also competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Series in 2010 and the SPEARS Modified Series in recent years. Johnson has 53 career Bullring victories, a total that puts him fifth on the LVMS short track's all-time wins list.
He has turned laps at LVMS in a Thunder Roadster, as well as a Corvette as part of programs and events for his main employer, Ron Fellows Performance Driving School in Pahrump, Nev., but will be wheeling a NGOTS truck around the 20 degree-banked track for the first time.
"I've had some laps there, but nothing in a truck or any kind of NASCAR vehicle," said Johnson, who enjoys spending time with his wife, Jenna, his daughters, Jaelynn and Jemma, and son, Jaxson. "The last race we ran in 2011 we ran in Nashville, which is a 1.3-mile track, and that's close to a mile-and-a-half. We ran top five most of the night there before a motor problem that set us back to 15th, and it was really technical where you had to let up on the throttle a bit.
"At LVMS, you'll stay full throttle for a while until the tires start giving up on you, and it's a little easier when you can stay full throttle and just turn the wheel. But getting the courage up to do it is going to be tough."
Johnson's race team and sponsors for the 134-lap race will come from a variety of racing industry friends and local businesses.
"Without the Wahl family stepping up and putting my name in a hat, I wouldn't have even been considered," Johnson said. "Al Budd has been funding my racing since I was a lot younger, and he's pretty much the reason this whole thing is happening. Joe Farre, Gregg Gorski and (past Bullring track champions) Chris Lowden and Ron Reed, those guys have stepped up big for me, too."
The World of Westgate 200 begins the speedway's South Point 400 weekend at 6 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday, with the Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series event following at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and the South Point 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff kickoff capping the weekend's racing action at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Various ticket packages, fun extras and special-access passes for LVMS's second NASCAR weekend of the year are available at www.lvms.com or by calling 1-800-644-4444.