Sonoma: Steve Johnson final report

Redlight Stops Steve Johnson in California SONOMA, CA 7/27/08 "I knew Angelle (Sampey) was going to be tough," said Steve Johnson of Irondale, Al. after a first round foul start that ended his day, "but I just pushed the 'Tree too hard." ...

Redlight Stops Steve Johnson in California

SONOMA, CA 7/27/08 "I knew Angelle (Sampey) was going to be tough," said Steve Johnson of Irondale, Al. after a first round foul start that ended his day, "but I just pushed the 'Tree too hard." Johnson's early departure from eliminations temporarily put a hold on the charge that began two races ago with a semifinal round finish, and then a final round appearance in the most recent Pro Stock Motorcycle race in Denver.

In losing Johnson recorded his quickest elapsed time of the season, a 6.970 second run that shows promise for the future.

"Going out to a redlight start is depressing," Johnson added, "but I'm not completely down in the dumps because our Snap-on Tools Suzuki ran quick and fast today. Now it's up to me to do a better job so we can advance further in eliminations at the next three races. That's how many opportunities we have left in which to make the Countdown to the Championship. Only the Top 10 riders in the points are going to be eligible for the POWERade title after that, and we're determined that our team is going to be one of them."

Johnson is currently a solid 9th in the standings, within striking distance of the rider in front of him. But he knows the next three outings are going to be not only critically important, they're going to be emotionally draining. The culmination of a season's worth of effort comes at the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend. Johnson is a past winner of drag racing's most prestigious event, but he knows that will mean little once this year's race begins.

"Winning Indy was nothing short of amazing," said Johnson of his 2005 victory, "but that was then, and this is now. Everyone competing in Pro Stock Motorcycle is better now than they were at the beginning of the season. I think our Snap-on Tools/WyoTech Technical Schools Suzuki team is also better now, but we can't let up, we can't sit back and hope things go our way. We have to be at the top of our game for the next three races, and if we make the Countdown then the pressure will really be intense, but we're looking forward to the challenge."

With a top speed of over 192 mph at Infineon Raceway, and that six second time slip tucked safely away in his briefcase, Johnson will be heading to the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Mn. in two weeks with some confidence, but as he says, "The minute our guys finish loading up our Suzuki and breaking down our pit area, and we pull out of Infineon Raceway, we're going to forget about what happened here, and concentrate on doing everything we can to make the next outing in Minnesota our best of the season. And then, after that, we'll try to be even better in Reading (Pa.) the following weekend, and better still at Indy.

"We all know what's going on here. If we hesitate or stumble, we're going to get run over by the rest of the pack.

"We're not going to let that happen!"

-credit: sjr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Steve Johnson