Memphis: Steve Johnson preview

Johnson Edges Closer To The Top 10 With Runner-up Performance BIRMINGHAM, AL 8/14/06 As a result of his strongest performance of the 2006 season thus far, Snap-on Tools Suzuki rider Steve Johnson of Birmingham, AL leapfrogged two positions in...

Johnson Edges Closer To The Top 10 With Runner-up Performance

BIRMINGHAM, AL 8/14/06 As a result of his strongest performance of the 2006 season thus far, Snap-on Tools Suzuki rider Steve Johnson of Birmingham, AL leapfrogged two positions in the NHRA POWERade points standings, and continues to edge closer to a Top 10 listing.

"We're certainly pleased with the way things worked out at the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway over the weekend," Johnson admitted, "but we've still got a long way to go to reach our goal of making it into the Top 10. The men -- and women -- who are ahead of us in the standings are tough, capable racers who aren't likely to make mistakes on the track. If we hope to improve we've got to do it ourselves.

"We had a great weekend in Minnesota, thanks to some luck and the efforts of our crew, led by our head man, Mark Peiser. Since he joined our operation full time Mark's played an integral role in our successes, but he can't do it alone. The old cliche is that there's no 'I' in team, but regardless of that, I'm the one driving our Snap-on Tools Suzuki, so it's up to me to avoid mistakes on the starting line. If I do my job the way I'm supposed to, and our guys do theirs, I think we can continue to improve."

Johnson was ranked 15th coming in to the Lucas Oil Nationals, where his impressive runner-up finish earned him 92 points and vaulted him past Shawn Gann and Michael Phillips. Straight ahead sits GT Tonglet, 25 markers in front of Johnson. Craig Treble, currently 10th, is 59 points ahead, a considerable margin, but nevertheless still within reach.

"I honestly don't think we can reach the Top 10 at the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals in Memphis this coming weekend," Johnson said. "But, if we can keep whittling away at the margin, we could make it by the time the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals rolls around at Indy over Labor Day weekend."

Johnson, who was belatedly named the winner of last year's U.S. Nationals after a television replay clearly showed his Suzuki ahead of his competitor at the finish line, would like nothing better than to be able to celebrate another victory at the year's most prestigious event.

"Winning the U.S. Nationals was probably the highlight of my career," he says, "but last year we didn't get to celebrate with our fans because we weren't officially declared the winner until the next day. Winning that race again will be extremely difficult because the level of competition has definitely increased, but we're going to go all out to do just that -- and get back into the Top 10 at the same time!"

-credit: ja

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shawn Gann , Craig Treble , Michael Phillips , Steve Johnson