What's A Guy Gotta Do To Catch A Break? Despite Season's Best E.T., Johnson DNQ's In Joliet JOLIET, IL 6/11/06 Steve Johnson's Snap-on Tools Suzuki crew had his Pro Stock Motorcycle running better than it has all season, but luck ...
What's A Guy Gotta Do To Catch A Break?
Despite Season's Best E.T., Johnson DNQ's In Joliet
JOLIET, IL 6/11/06 Steve Johnson's Snap-on Tools Suzuki crew had his Pro Stock Motorcycle running better than it has all season, but luck and circumstances still kept the effervescent driver out of Sunday's final eliminations at what's become the fastest track on the NHRA POWERade Series circuit. When the rain that interrupted qualifying more than once finally drifted away, Johnson found himself on the outside looking in from the 17th qualifying position after the fourth and final qualifying session was surprisingly cancelled by NHRA officials, who cited time constraints as the main problem.
"We needed that fourth run," Johnson readily admitted. "We made the two best runs we've made all year in the second and third sessions, and were loaded for bear when we were told the fourth session wouldn't happen.
"Believe me, I'd like to point fingers and place blame, but what are you going to do? I know there are a lot of other competitors who felt the same way I did, because there's no curfew here in Joliet and the track has very good lighting for night racing, so why that fourth session was cancelled is something I just can't answer. Believe me, it's really disappointing."
Johnson's first run on Friday afternoon was officially disqualified, but the reigning U.S. Nationals champion wanted everyone to know that while technically accurate, he didn't want anyone t think he'd done anything "wrong."
"On that first run our Snap-on Tools Suzuki left the starting line like a rocket, but when I hit second gear it almost got away from me, pulling me right over to the wall, so I had to lift. We ended up with a nine second run, and there was no way that was going to be good enough to make the show, so I bypassed the fuel check area on the return road so we could get back to the pits and have that much more time to prep the bike for the second attempt. When you skip fuel check or the scales, that's an automatic disqualification, as it should be, but I just wanted everyone to know the real circumstances.
"Ya know," he continued, "this has been one of those weeks where if they were doing a reality TV show on our team nobody would believe what they were seeing. Our guys had to pick someone up at Midway Airport in Chicago a few days ago, and our tractor/trailer rig wasn't designed for the narrow entry road. I'll skip the morbid details other than to say we've got some serious damage to our rig and left behind a couple of bent and broken highway signs. And then, to come out here and go through this makes me wonder: What's a guy gotta do to catch a break?"
Johnson's second qualifying run on Friday evening netted an up-to-that-point season's-best elapsed time of 7.138 seconds, which was only good enough for the 16th and final position in the field.
"I knew that was a very good run even before I turned off the track," Johnson said. "Then, to find out we were still at the back of the pack, man, I knew we had to really dig deep for the third session on Saturday morning."
Under grey skies with cool temperatures, Johnson and his crew delivered an even quicker elapsed time of 7.123 seconds, but alas, as he improved, so did everyone else, leaving him just short of the 7.119 second bump position.
"This was a frustrating yet kinda encouraging weekend," Johnson said. "We didn't make the show, but you could see the improvement in just about every aspect of our operation.
"We're going to stick around and do some testing on Monday, if we can, because I think with just another run or two we'll be right in the thick of things, and that's where we need to be. We've got back-to-back races coming up in Englishtown, New Jersey and St. Louis, and we intend to make an impression on everyone at both of 'em!"