Brainerd: Steve Johnson preview

Johnson Dedicates Lucas Oil Nationals Efforts To The People Of Minnesota IRONDALE, AL 8/7/07 Snap-on Tools Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle drag racer Steve Johnson competes in an adrenalin-pumping form of motorsports that results in six second ...

Johnson Dedicates Lucas Oil Nationals Efforts To The People Of Minnesota

IRONDALE, AL 8/7/07 Snap-on Tools Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle drag racer Steve Johnson competes in an adrenalin-pumping form of motorsports that results in six second quarter mile elapsed times at speeds right around 190 MPH. After watching competitors like Johnson in action one might jump to the conclusion that the men and women who wrestle these high-horsepower machines down the quarter mile -- on two wheels -- must be tougher than nails. After all, to race they way they do, they'd have to be strong -- in everything they do.

To a certain extent you may be right, but scratch the surface of any racer and you'd be surprised at how emotionally soft most of them are underneath that sometimes devil-may-care exterior. Steve Johnson is one of those individuals.

"When the NHRA POWERade Series travels the nation we're all very interested to see how much publicity the series and the competitors generate," he said from his race shop in Alabama. "But, as anxious as all of us are with producing positive results for our sponsors and the series, when you see something like the news that came out of Minneapolis last week about the bridge collapse on I-35, it puts everything into sharper focus, into a different perspective.

"When that news broke it stunned everyone on our race team. Our first thoughts were, Have we lost anyone we know? Anyone who's part of the drag racing family? But, we quickly realized that this was about much more than drag racing. Reading the newspaper stories, and watching the coverage on television, you couldn't help but notice how all of Minnesota had suddenly become one big family, and we realized that a whole state had become the same kind of close-knit family that all of us in drag racing feel we're a part of.

"Everyone knows that we're in the fight of our lives to be among the Top 8 points earners when the U.S. Nationals begins in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend. That will mean we're going to be contenders for the first POWERade championship contested under the new Countdown points system, and we're really excited about that.

"But, as much as we're going to concentrate on making the Countdown -- we have just two races left in which to qualify, but we're right in the thick of things right now -- we're going in to the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd with the people of Minnesota on our minds. We're dedicating our efforts in their names because of the courage and class they've consistently shown since this tragedy took place.

"It may sound kind of corny, but we're going to try and win one for Minnesota!"

Johnson's Snap-on Tools race team made it to the semifinal round of the Fram/Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, Calif. two weeks ago, and hopes to capitalize on the momentum gained at that race to help them in Brainerd. Right now Johnson is in seventh place in the standings for both the NHRA POWERade Series title, which will earn him a spot in the final Countdown to 4, as well as for the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle that takes place during the U.S. Nationals.

"I've said all along that we want to be a part of the Ringers Gloves Battle," Johnson said, "but our major goal is to win the POWERade championship. That's what we're aiming for, but our first and immediate goal is to win the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals for the people of Minnesota."

-credit: sjr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Steve Johnson