Charlotte: Steve Johnson final report

Oh Baby! Steve Johnson Wins Back-To-Back Races! CONCORD, NC 9/14/08 "If this is a dream, I don't want to wake up," said Ironton, Alabama's Steve Johnson after winning back-to-back NHRA POWERade Series national events for the first time in ...

Oh Baby! Steve Johnson Wins Back-To-Back Races!

CONCORD, NC 9/14/08 "If this is a dream, I don't want to wake up," said Ironton, Alabama's Steve Johnson after winning back-to-back NHRA POWERade Series national events for the first time in his career. Johnson's stunning win, coming just 12 days after he scored his second NHRA U.S. Nationals victory, vaulted the 22-year veteran of Pro Stock Motorcycle racing to second place in the POWERade standings. In the Countdown to 1 championship program Johnson is now a very serious title contender.

"I am never short of things to say, but this is just unbelievable," he said after having ridden his bike into the track's safety sand trap after the final round. "Sorry about that," he added. "I just got a little excited for a second!

"First of all, let's talk about this facility. Bruton Smith has outdone himself with this new zMax Dragway. It's not state-of-the-art. It's way beyond that, beyond anything I think any of us expected. It's simply awesome, and the fans have been just overwhelming. To win the first-ever race, at a track like this, at a time like this in the season, is beyond anything I could have hoped for."

Johnson's Snap-on Tools/WyoTech Technical School Suzuki was neither the quickest or fastest Pro Stock Motorcycle in competition at the NHRA Carolinas Nationals, but as crew chief Mark Peiser put it, "Steve did an exceptional job at the controls. His Reaction Times in the semifinal and final rounds were terrific, and we had enough power to win. We also got the kind of good break we needed in the finale, and believe me, those things usually don't break our way." Peiser was referring to opponent Eddie Krawiec's redlight start on the money run.

Johnson qualified fifth with consistent 7.0 second elapsed times through four rounds of qualifying, and despite improvement never budged off the Number 5 position. "The team worked exceptionally hard during qualifying," he said, "but no matter what we did, we still came up Number 5, but we weren't disappointed. Qualifying in the top half of the field guarantees you lane choice in the first round, and that's always important."

During eliminations, in front of an SRO crowd, Johnson defeated Angie McBride in round one, rookie Wes Wells in round two, Summit Racing Equipment Nationals winner Hector Arana in the semifinals, and Krawiec in the finale. Of his four opponents only Krawiec was a Countdown to 1 qualifier, but despite that Johnson vaulted from Number 8 in the standings to Number 2. He is now just 34 points behind Matt Smith, but as Johnson realizes, that's a significant margin. "We have four more races to settle this thing," he said. "That sounds like a lot, but it's just 16 rounds of competition. We can't afford to let up, not for a single instant. We owe it to our fans, our sponsors and ourselves to go all-out to win the championship, and that's what we intend to do.

"Man, I'm emotionally exhausted! I would love to have a few days to enjoy this, but our next race is next weekend. I'll relax when the season is over, but not before then!"

-credit: sjr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Steve Johnson , Angie McBride , Eddie Krawiec