NORWALK, Ohio -- For some who spend their lives playing in the arena known as drag racing, a lifetime can go by without experiencing the joy of winning a big time race or a national title.
But for Justin Poindexter, that thrill of hoisting a championship trophy high into the air and hearing the title "world champion" attached to your name is something that he has already experienced in his young racing career.
Poindexter won the second-ever IHRA Junior Dragster World Championship at the Summit World Finals after four rounds of grueling competition against the best racers ages eight to 18 in North America. The young racer from Millington, Tennessee eliminated racers from Montana, Texas and Virginia on his way to the title, eventually winning a showdown with defending Junior Dragster champion Austin Johnson in the final to claim one of the biggest prizes in the sport - and he is still a few years away from being able to drive a real car.
"It has been a pretty fun year. I have been racing for six years now and to win something like this already is pretty cool," Poindexter said. "I am pretty pumped up to win this race and to get to drive this car next year. I just want to thank everyone who helped make this possible."
Crediting his racer father as his inspiration for getting into drag racing, Poindexter won the track championship at his home track of Memphis International Raceway and then finished runner-up at the Summit Team Finals runoff one week before the World Finals to punch his ticket to the championship.
Once at the track, Poindexter went three rounds before meeting the defending world champion in the class, Austin Johnson, in a showdown for the Summit SuperSeries Junior Dragster championship. Determined to win this race for the second year in a row, Johnson's heart sank when he lit the red bulb in the intense final round by -.021 to hand Poindexter the win and the keys to a brand new Junior Dragster.
Poindexter had a .044 light and ran an 8.019 second elapsed time at 80.10 miles per hour on a 7.99 dial in the final.
"I have been racing for six years, but I didn't know any of this until my dad taught me," Poindexter said. "My dad used to race a Nova and now he races an S-10 which is my moms. I just really want to thank my parents for getting me into racing and allowing me to do this. I really love it."
Poindexter had wins over Garrett Lloyd, Leroy Thomae and Rachael Whitney on his way to the final, while Johnson recorded wins over Joshua VanAmelsvoort, Michael Turman and Reanna Lardy.
In the semifinal round Whitney beat the champ off the line with a .022 light to a .031, but Poindexter battled back on the top end running an 8.032 on a 7.98 dial at 77.35 mph. In the other semifinal Lardy went red by -.031, moving Johnson into the finals for the second year in a row.
With the win Johnson took home a brand new Junior Dragster built by Vic Puglia with an awesome orange and blue Trick Flow livery designed and painted by Jerron Settles of Imagine That Custom Paint. He also received $3,000 from Summit Racing Equipment and a prize package that includes a family vacation, a championship Ironman and ring and more.
"I want to thank my parents, I want to thank Ozark Motor Lines, JNJ Express and I want to thank God for getting me here," Poindexter said. "I also want to thank all of the people that sponsor this race and this awesome car. I can't wait to drive it next year. I would take it for a drive right now, but they won't let me."
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