Johnson Matches Career-Best Elapsed Time In Runner-up Finish In Memphis: "Elvis Was Riding With Me Every Round!" MEMPHIS, TN 9/16/07 Steve Johnson of Irondale, Ala., rode his Snap-on Tools Suzuki TL-1000 to his first final round appearance of...
Johnson Matches Career-Best Elapsed Time In Runner-up Finish In Memphis: "Elvis Was Riding With Me Every Round!"
MEMPHIS, TN 9/16/07 Steve Johnson of Irondale, Ala., rode his Snap-on Tools Suzuki TL-1000 to his first final round appearance of the 2007 NHRA POWERade Series season at Memphis Motorsports Park on Sunday afternoon. In four successive rounds of eliminations Johnson had the superior Reaction Time, meaning that he left the starting line before his opponents did. He scored a career-best Reaction Time in his semifinal round victory over Craig Treble, leaving the line a remarkable 0.001 seconds after the starting light turned green.
As if his superior Reactions Times weren't enough, in the first round of eliminations Johnson matched his career-best elapsed time with a strong 6.982 second defeat of Chris Rivas.
In reality, Johnson advanced to the team's first final round appearance of the season on the strength of his holeshots and competitive elapsed times, but alas, it all came to naught in the finale when his engine expired against Andrew Hines. But even then, Johnson left the starting line first by a margin of 0.042 seconds, but as he said, "Andrew put down an excellent run, and we would have had to have had one heck of an elapsed time to have stayed ahead.
"It's kind of a strange feeling," Johnson continued, "but when I look at how we performed this weekend I'm of two minds. First, as a team owner I'm extremely proud of how everyone performed. We demonstrated what I've been saying all along, which is that we've got a great team here, one with a tremendous amount of potential. Today shows that we're on the verge of maybe leaving that word 'potential' behind, and moving into the area of realizing that potential.
"On the other hand, as a competitor, I'm pretty proud of my riding contributions this weekend. It's so easy to redlight, or have an okay light or even be late, but this weekend I was in the zone, where everything worked perfectly. I don't know how to explain it, but every time I went to the starting line my vision narrowed down and it was just me, our Suzuki and the Tree. Everything else faded away, and that's why we had really good Reaction Times in every round.
"But, things didn't go as smoothly as it might have appeared. We ran over something on the track in the first qualifying session, which blew a big chunk out of the tire. Believe me, you can't even imagine what it's like trying to control a 190 mile per hour motorcycle when something like that happens out at those speeds. That was one helluva ride. I'd bet my heart rate was off the charts after that one!
"And then, in the finale, we had a major engine failure, and switching back to my team owner hat, all I can say is Ouch, that hurt! Yeah, it hurts to the tune of about twenty grand, but that's the risk that every competitor out here takes every time they fire up their motorcycles.
"Ya know, I also had a lot of fun today, and that's what this is all about. I did a couple of television interviews, and even when they weren't shooting me I pretended they were. At least I had the guys at the finish line laughing.
"I also found myself seven new fans -- at least until the engine blew against Andrew (Hines). I think all seven riders in the Countdown to the Championship came over and wished me luck in the finals, and I'm just sorry I ended up disappointing them. Heck, I was disappointed, too."
After Friday's YES (Youth and Education Services) event, WyoTech Technical Schools representative, Angela McMillen, hosted students and teachers from eight area schools in Johnson's hospitality area, and no one went away hungry after she delivered 50 pizzas to Johnson's pits. On Saturday a special group of WyoTech enrolees and their parents enjoyed the WyoTech Experience as groups have done in each market in which the NHRA POWERade Series and Pro Stock Motorcycle has appeared this year. Special guest Rick Hightower of Snap-on Tools Industrial Tools Division spoke to the group about Snap-on's heritage in motorsports and their support of the WyoTech programs.
As Johnson said, "It was another busy weekend, but when we can produce results like these, it's more than all right with me.
"I said last week that I was seeking inspiration from the spirit of Elvis here in Memphis, and I found it. He was riding with me in every round, but I looked around for him before the finale and didn't see him. I guess he had something more important to do, darn it!
"Finishing in the NHRA POWERade Top 10 standings is extremely important to us, and we made a big move in the right direction today. By making the final round we moved into 9th place, and while I know that's the best we can hope for with our Snap-on Tools Suzuki team because of the way the points system is structured, that's where we're determined to finish. We just took one more step towards that goal today."