Johnson Gambling On Victory In Las Vegas -- And Earning More Gold In Pomona! IRONDALE, AL 10/22/07 Snap-on Tools Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Steve Johnson has his sights set on what he's termed "the jackpot" at the AC Delco Nationals to...
Johnson Gambling On Victory In Las Vegas -- And Earning More Gold In Pomona!
IRONDALE, AL 10/22/07 Snap-on Tools Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Steve Johnson has his sights set on what he's termed "the jackpot" at the AC Delco Nationals to be contested this coming weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "For us that jackpot is coming home with a 'Wally,' the trophy the winner of an NHRA POWERade Series race earns," he said from his race shop in Irondale, Ala. "Those trophies are named in honor of NHRA's Founder, Wally Parks, who passed away earlier this month. Earning one seems more meaningful now than ever before."
Johnson is currently listed in the NHRA POWERade Top 10 standings, and knows that strong performances in the AC Delco Nationals this coming weekend and then again at the Auto Club Finals in Pomona, Calif. a week later will result in his 15th Top 10 finish in 21 seasons.
"I think one of the most fascinating aspects of these final two races is how different they are for me personally. Las Vegas just has to be the ultimate party town. There's just so much to do away from the track that's it's kind of overwhelming. When the races end the place empties out faster than any other track I've ever been to because everyone has things to do and places to go.
"I grew up in Southern California, so I know there's plenty to do out there, too. But, for me any race at Pomona is like coming home. Even though I live in Alabama now -- and I love it here -- I have lots of friends and family in Southern California, so it's important to me to do my very best.
"There are a few races in every season that somehow seem to rise above the rest in importance. For our team those races include the Gatornationals in Florida in March, the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day, and the Auto Club Finals at Pomona. It's where everyone's season comes to an end. And, it's where you set the tone for the next season.
"We've had what I guess you could call a very 'interesting' year," he said. "We've had great weekends, and we've had a few that I'd rather forget, but no matter what the outcome, our goal remains the same -- winning rounds, winning races and finishing the season in the POWERade Top 10 standings.
"What keeps this team focused is that we're all dedicated to the same goals, and that goes for everyone from our crew chief, Mark Peiser, to our technician/engineers, Tim Kulungian and Richie Wiley, and our support staff in the office. Everyone hates cliches, and I'm certainly one of those guys, but it really does take a team to win races. I'm just fortunate to have a great one."
Johnson is excited about the fact that his Helmet Cam for the ESPN2 race telecasts will be backed by Permatex. He'll also appear, with his motorcycle and a Reaction Time tester, in the Permatex booth at the APAA Show in Las Vegas on October 31st through November 2nd at the Sands Expo Convention Center.
"I love doing those kinds of shows," he said. "We get the chance to meet new people and give them an introduction to drag racing, and that's important to me. It's the same kind of excitement I feel when we host WyoTech Technical School student enrollees and Snap-on Tools dealers and reps in our hospitality area in the pits at the NHRA races. For a lot of those students, and their parents, it's their first introduction to the sport, so we try to make it as much fun as possible. It's the same with the Snap-on Tools folks. It makes a very strong impression on them when they see their tools actually being used in the competitive arena, and that's meaningful."
Johnson has a very simple goal for the year's final outings on the POWERade Series circuit -- win!