A year ago, Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson ventured into the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals knowing he was only five races away from what would be his long awaited first series championship.

 Going rounds at Texas Motorplex was going to be crucial to his title hopes and a win, well, that would just give him an even bigger cushion in the Countdown to the Championship.

 “I have always, always loved that smooth concrete surface at the Motorplex,” said the Tennessee native. “So going into that race, I felt pretty good.

 “And then when Jason (Line) went out in the first round, it just set things up for us. Him going out that early gave us a substantial lead in the points (93 over Line) and that win gave our whole team momentum in the Countdown and a lot of confidence. It was a big, big win for us because we knew we had a really good shot at the championship and after that we went more on defense than offense.”

 With three wins to his credit in 2013, Johnson again is a contender for the Pro Stock championship, currently sitting third in the point standings, 130 behind Mike Edwards and just two points behind second-place Jeg Coughlin. He also knows he has some good tracks coming up and says his confidence is growing.

 “Right now, I’d say my confidence level (for repeating as champion) is about 95 percent,” said. “I’ve got a little ways to go, but that just makes you work harder. And we’re not afraid of hard work.”

 And he’s anything but afraid of returning to Texas Motorplex for the 28th annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Sept. 19-22, site of race No. 2 in the Countdown to the Championship.

 “Any time you win some place, you love going back there,” Johnson said. “And knowing how important that win at the Motorplex was to us winning the championship makes it even more special.

 “I feel like we’re on track to repeat as champions but it’ll be a knockdown, drag out. If we keep running well, going rounds and we get another win at the Motorplex, it would go a long way toward getting that second one (championship).

 “I sure wouldn’t mind us leaving Texas in the same situation we were in a year ago – with another win and a good lead. That’s definitely going to be the goal.”

Tickets for the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals are available now, ranging from just $10 to $380 for weekend packages. Youth tickets for children 12 and under start as low as $5. For tickets or more information, call the Texas Motorplex office at (800) MOTORPLEX or visit www.texasmotorplex.com.

Gates open at 10 a.m. Sept. 19 with sportsman qualifying runs between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Two rounds of professional qualifying, at 2:15 and 5:15 p.m., highlight the Sept. 20 schedule, along with sportsman qualifying throughout the day. Sept. 21 is packed with sportsman eliminations and the final two rounds of professional qualifying at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.

Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, with pre-race ceremonies at 10 a.m. and final eliminations getting under way at 11 a.m.