Semifinal Round Finish Puts Johnson Back In The Championship Hunt ENGLISHTOWN, NJ 6/25/07 Matching his best outing of the still-young NHRA POWERade Series season, Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Steve Johnson of Irondale, AL vaulted back into ...
Semifinal Round Finish Puts Johnson Back In The Championship Hunt
ENGLISHTOWN, NJ 6/25/07 Matching his best outing of the still-young NHRA POWERade Series season, Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Steve Johnson of Irondale, AL vaulted back into championship contention following a semifinal round finish at the ProCare Rx SuperNationals in Englishtown, NJ on Sunday.
Johnson's Snap-on Tools Suzuki team had been struggling of late, and had gone hundreds of miles out of their way to do some testing at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis on Tuesday prior to the race, but that effort proved fruitless.
"We had high hopes about the testing," Johnson said following the New Jersey race, "but track conditions made it impossible to learn anything, so even though we did well here this weekend, we still have that gremlin in our motorcycle.
"We thought we'd run good enough to qualify on Friday night, but we just didn't get a handle on things until the third session on Saturday morning. We got in the show with a 7.024-second elapsed time, but in all candor, we need to be running three or fourth hundredths of a second quicker than that if we're really going to be contenders."
Johnson had another incredibly busy race week, first going on a Ride-Along with a Snap-on Tools franchisee on Thursday and then hosting a group of newly enrolled WyoTech Technical School students at the track on Friday. He also participated in a Snap-on Tools Autograph Party on Saturday. "I love doing those things," he admitted. "Interacting with the Snap-on folks is always a lot of fun because with each passing event I realize that more and more of them understand the very positive relationship between motorsports and product sales. I have never particularly liked the saying 'Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday,' but there's definitely a relationship between a potential customer seeing racers using Snap-on Tools at the track and then choosing those tools for themselves during the week.
"When it comes to hosting the WyoTech students I just don't think you can top the enthusiasm these young men and women have. They've made a serious decision to improve their futures with additional technical education, so all we do is show them what drag racing is all about, and how there are career opportunities both in and outside of motorsports."
Johnson rode exceptionally well in New Jersey, out-performing his first two opponents with superior starting line Reaction Times before losing a close race to Andrew Himes in the semifinal round. Johnson overcame Chip Ellis's six second elapsed time in the first round with his best effort of the weekend, a 7.013/190.14, after Johnson's 0.026-second Reaction Time easily out-distanced Ellis's 0.108-second R.T. In the second round Johnson won a close one over Matt Smith when the two riders notched nearly identical elapsed times of 7.050-seconds and 7.057-seconds respectively, with Johnson's Reaction Time of 0.020-seconds being the difference-maker.
"Even though we didn't win," Johnson said, "we accomplished what we needed to do here, and that was get back into contention for the championship. With the new points format under which only the top eight points earners will be eligible for the title after just five more races it was important for us to make a big move here, and we did that. We've moved back into the Top 8, and if we can keep this kind of momentum going for the next few races, we'll be in good shape."
There's no off-time in the immediate future for Johnson's Snap-on Tools Suzuki team. They'll service their motorcycle today and then head directly to Norwalk, OH for the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals this coming weekend. On Wednesday the team will take part in the Thunder In The Streets promotion with an all-day display on Main Street in Norwalk, where they'll be joined by other professional teams competing on the POWERade Series circuit.
"Yeah, it's going to be another busy week," Johnson acknowledged," but we wouldn't have it any other way. If we can run just a little bit better than we did here in New Jersey, who knows, maybe we'll make the final round and move further up in the points. Man, that would be something, wouldn't it?"