Semifinal Round Finish Has Steve Johnson Back On Track For The NHRA Championship MOHNTON, PA 8/17/08 Steve Johnson of Irondale, Ala. rode his Snap-on Tools/WyoTech Technical Schools Suzuki to a semifinal round finish at the NHRA Toyo Tires ...
Semifinal Round Finish Has Steve Johnson Back On Track For The NHRA Championship
MOHNTON, PA 8/17/08 Steve Johnson of Irondale, Ala. rode his Snap-on Tools/WyoTech Technical Schools Suzuki to a semifinal round finish at the NHRA Toyo Tires Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in the Reading suburb of Mohnton, Penn. on Sunday afternoon, a finish that will help cement Johnson's place in the NHRA Countdown to 1 championship program. Only the Top 10 points earners will be eligible for the POWERade championship following the next race, the prestigious U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis. The 22-year veteran of Pro Stock Motorcycle drag racing is currently 9th in the standings, and is unlikely to be bumped out of the Top 10 at the race everyone calls simply "The Nationals."
Johnson was victorious in drag racing's most important race in 2005, and would like nothing better than to repeat that accomplishment. "Winning Indy was nothing short of fantastic," he said from Maple Grove Raceway. "But that seems like a long time ago now. Our goal is certainly to repeat at Indy, but the big picture is making sure we're in that Countdown to 1, and going rounds in the Nationals will certainly help make that dream come true."
Johnson recorded his quickest elapsed time of the season with a 6.955 second effort that qualified him Number 5 (his speed of 193.88 mph was good enough for Top Speed of the Meet), assuring him lane choice in the first round against former AHDRA World Champion Jr. Pippin, but Pippin negated his chances with a redlight start. Johnson had a superior elapsed time against second round opponent Eddie Krawiec, who also redlighted, and then had an exceptional Reaction Time of 0.007 seconds against Matt Smith, but his 7.019 second elapsed time couldn't match Smith's 6.983 second run.
"I think we're headed in the right direction," said Johnson's crew chief, Mark Peiser, at the end of the day. "Steve did a great job at the controls, and everyone on the team did an exceptional job all weekend. Now, if we can catch a break or two in the upcoming races I think we can be a real championship contender."
Johnson agreed, adding "The pressure is really going to escalate from here on out. Our Snap-on Tools/WyoTech Technical Schools team is really focused on what's ahead. If we can keep going rounds like we did here today I think we have an excellent shot at moving up in the standings.
"Man, that would really be something, wouldn't it?"
Prior to arriving at Maple Grove Raceway Johnson's entire team made a special appearance at the WyoTech Technical School in Blairsville, Penn. where they gave more than 1,000 students a tour of the entire race team operation. "We love doing that stuff," Johnson said. "For a lot of those young people it's an eye-opener because prior to seeing our operation some of them think that racing is pretty simple, but once they see the steps we go through to prepare our Suzuki, and what we go through after every run, they get a better idea of how important a technical education is going to be for their futures. The 'real world' is probably tougher to conquer than the world of drag racing, so we know that what we show them can have lasting results."
On Saturday Johnson's team hosted more than 100 new student enrollees in the WyoTech Technical Schools program at the track, which made for a hectic day. "We're used to it, and it's all worth it," Johnson said. "Believe me, it not only fires them up when they see how hard we work, their enthusiasm fires us up, too!"