New Crew Chief Sparks Johnson's Resurgence Pro Stock Motorcycle Standout On A Hot Streak MADISON, IL 6/25/06 After a difficult series of NHRA POWERade Series outings, Pro Stock Motorcycle standout Steve Johnson of Birmingham, AL now finds ...
New Crew Chief Sparks Johnson's Resurgence
Pro Stock Motorcycle Standout On A Hot Streak
MADISON, IL 6/25/06 After a difficult series of NHRA POWERade Series outings, Pro Stock Motorcycle standout Steve Johnson of Birmingham, AL now finds himself in the midst of a sudden hot streak thanks in no small measure to a new addition to the team. Noted tuner Mark Peiser, a decade-long friend of Johnson's, has accepted his offer to join the Snap-on Tools Suzuki team as crew chief, with the last two weeks proving his worth to the operation.
"Last weekend," Johnson said, "Mark was fishing about 2,000 miles away from our race in Englishtown, NJ, but through the marvel of modern communications -- that would be cell phones -- he helped tune our bike long distance. Honestly, he did a better job from 2,000 miles away than I do with my hands right on the wrenches, so I'm convinced that from now on things are going to be better for our team.
"This is truly a life-altering move for our race team, and I couldn't be happier. The fact that Mark and I are also personal friends is going to help, because even before he agreed to formally join the team our relationship was really tight, and this is just going to make thing even better."
At Englishtown Johnson managed to cling to the 16th and final qualifying position before defeating Chip Ellis in the first round of eliminations. He lost a tough one to Tom Bradford in the second round.
At Gateway International this weekend Johnson qualified an improving 11th with a 7.167 second elapsed time, but it didn't come easily. With three rounds of qualifying completed he found himself on the outside looking in, but Peiser, who'd previously worked miracles for the U.S. Army team, dialed the Snap-on Tools Suzuki in perfectly for the last attempt, when it counted the most.
"We struggled in the first three sessions because our setup isn't exactly what Mark had hoped it would be. We worked together on the tune-up, and changed a few things around and man, did Mark ever come through!"
Johnson used a superior Reaction Time and a stellar 7.183 second elapsed time (the third quickest of the first round of eliminations) to defeat former champion Geno Scali before pressing the Tree too hard and redlighting against Chip Ellis in the second.
"I guess you could say we 'owed him one' after we beat Chip last weekend, but I could kick myself for fouling out by just nine thousandths of a second.
"I just decided. I will kick myself!
"I think that Mark (Peiser) was the final ingredient we needed to make this team a winner, so we're really looking forward to the remainder of the season. We won two big races last year, and there's plenty of time for us to not only duplicate that this year, but to maybe win even more than that.
"Everyone on our team has more confidence today than we had a couple of weeks ago, and we're all working together better than we had been earlier in the season. There's still plenty of time for us to crack the POWERade Top 10, so that's our main goal for the rest of the year.
"Ya know, racers always mention their sponsors, and I'm no different than the next guy, but for us it's almost more about relationships than it is about business. Our backers, from Snap-on Tools to WyoTech, Suzuki, Mickey Thompson tires, Simpson and Web Cams and all of the others, have been incredibly supportive as we've sorted things out this year, and I can't thank them enough for that. Not once have we ever experienced the slightest bit of doubt about our ability to get back on track. Now that we're there, the sky's the limit.
"I can't wait for the Mile-High Nationals in Denver on July 14th!"