Joliet: Steve Johnson preview

Johnson All Set For Second Of "Big 3" Races In The Heart Of "Snap-on Country!" IRONDALE, AL -- Every racer, whether he's competing on four wheels or two, going around in circles, turning through corners, or going in a straight line like Pro ...

Johnson All Set For Second Of "Big 3" Races In The Heart Of "Snap-on Country!"

IRONDALE, AL -- Every racer, whether he's competing on four wheels or two, going around in circles, turning through corners, or going in a straight line like Pro Stock Motorcycle standout Steve Johnson, has a handful of races that he considers the most important of his season. Johnson is no different, and this coming weekend's Torco Racing Fuels Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, IL just outside Chicago is one of his "Big 3."

"This is a very important race for our Snap-on Tools Suzuki team," he acknowledged from his race shop in Alabama as his rig was being loaded for the ride north. "Not only is Route 66 Raceway one of the quickest and fastest tracks in the nation, it's located in one of my favorite cities, Chicago, and it's also right in the heart of what I call 'Snap-on Country.' The company headquarters is located right across the state line in Kenosha, WI, and I've already heard that a lot of my friends from the corporate offices are going to be there to see us compete. We're also going to be hosting a large number of Snap-on Tools franchisees, so it's going to be a heck of a weekend for us.

"As a Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor I have three races that I think are incredibly important, all for different reasons. The first is the AC Delco Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL in March. That one's particularly important because it's the first race of the year for Pro Stock Motorcycles, and performing well at that event can set the tone for your whole season.

"The second is the Torco Racing Fuels Route 66 Nationals, and along with the track being so good and it's being the 'home track' for Snap-on Tools, the Windy City fans are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and I don't mind saying that I feed off that. I can't really explain it, but when the fans are psyched up, it psyches me up, too.

"The third race in my personal 'Big 3' is the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend. That's drag racing's largest and most prestigious event. It offers the largest purse and it's also the home of the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle, which is a special race-within-a-race for the eight riders who have amassed the most points in qualifying at the previous year's race. Just making the field for that one is an honor.

"Well, I've been fortunate enough to have won two of my 'Big 3;' the Gators and the U.S. Nationals, and I've also been in the finals of the Pro Bike Battle. Believe me, I'd like nothing better than to add a win at Route 66 Raceway to my resume."

In preparation for doing just that Johnson's team, headed by crew chief Mark Peiser, tested extensively at Gateway International Raceway outside of St. Louis a couple of weeks ago. Peiser has also gone through all of the team's Suzuki engines in preparation for the next four races, which will be critically important to Johnson's chances of making a serious run for this year's NHRA POWERade Series championship. He's currently in eighth place in the standings, but looks to improve his position prior to the Toyo Tires Nationals in Pennsylvania in August, after which the new points format includes the top eight performers fighting it out for the Countdown to 4 and ultimately to the Countdown to 2 at the season's final two events.

"We're all really excited about getting back to racing," Johnson admitted following an almost month long layoff from national event competition. "We've been plenty busy preparing our hardware and testing," he added, "and I've also been making a number of personal appearances, so it's not as if we've just taken the last 30 days off. We're ready to go right now, and I can't wait for qualifying to begin on Friday afternoon in Joliet. This is a very big race for us, and what we're looking for is a very big win!"

-credit: str

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Steve Johnson