"Total Team Effort" Nets Career-Best E.T. For Steve Johnson, But Redlight Proves Disappointing MOHNTON, PA 10/1/06 Drag racing can be a very frustrating endeavor. Just ask Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor Steve Johnson of Irondale, AL. Two...
"Total Team Effort" Nets Career-Best E.T. For Steve Johnson, But Redlight Proves Disappointing
MOHNTON, PA 10/1/06 Drag racing can be a very frustrating endeavor. Just ask Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor Steve Johnson of Irondale, AL. Two weeks ago he and his team arrived at Maple Grove Raceway just outside Reading, PA for the NHRA Toyo Tires Nationals where they hoped to run the kind of elapsed times and speeds that would put them in the top half of the field after qualifying. Ah, but Mother Nature had other ideas, and after two solid days of rain the event had to be postponed until this weekend.
"You know, nobody 'wins' in a rainout situation," Johnson said following the first round of eliminations on Sunday afternoon. "Even though the grandstands were packed with fans all three days this time around there's just something about the atmosphere of a rainout that's just somehow different. I can't explain it in any other way. It's just different.
"I'm extremely proud of my team, and that begins with crew chief Mark Peiser. Everyone worked incredibly hard this weekend, and it paid off with a career best elapsed time for both Mark and myself, and while that's certainly something to be pleased about, I certainly can't say the same thing about what happened in the first round.
"Mark and I have taken a very close look at the video replays of my redlight start, and it appears that I simply staged too shallowly. That means I didn't move into the second and final staging beam fully enough. I just got too much of a run at the lights, so when I let the clutch out the bike moved quicker than I anticipated it would, and that was that.
"When we're running as good as we are right now it means we're going to have to slightly alter our whole approach to racing. When our Snap-on Tools Suzuki reacted a little slower, as it did in the past, I could really 'push' the starting line lights. I can't do that now. I'm going to have to stage with more care than ever before, and I just wish I'd've realized that before the first round!"
The three runs Johnson made during qualifying all eclipsed his previous career best elapsed time of 7.072 seconds, which was recorded at this year's Fram Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, CA at the end of July. He opened with a 7.061 second run, improved that to a 7.040 and then capped off qualifying with a super-strong 7.001 second run that netted him the Number 6 qualifying position in the quickest Pro Stock Motorcycle field in NHRA history.
"What really bothers me about this," Johnson added "is that we literally gave away 20 POWERade points with that redlight, and at this point in the season we just can't afford to do that.
"I learned a valuable lesson today, and won't make the same staging error again. When your Mickey Thompson drag tire is at about 130-degrees after the burnout, and your Suzuki is making the kind of power that Mark (Peiser) is generating, you've got to be all the way into the beam, and then get ready to race. We'll be ready to do just that when we get to the AC Delco Nationals in Las Vegas at the end of the month!"