Semifinal Round Finish Moves Steve Johnson Up In Points SONOMA, CA 7/29/07 Steve Johnson of Irondale, Alabama rode his Snap-on Tools Suzuki to a semifinal round finish at the NHRA Fram/Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, California today, and made a...
Semifinal Round Finish Moves Steve Johnson Up In Points
SONOMA, CA 7/29/07 Steve Johnson of Irondale, Alabama rode his Snap-on Tools Suzuki to a semifinal round finish at the NHRA Fram/Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, California today, and made a significant move in the NHRA POWERade points standings as a result. Johnson is in the thick of the battle being called the "Countdown to 8" under the new NHRA points format. Two more races remain to determine the Top 8, the only riders who will remain eligible for the POWERade championship after that point.
Johnson moved from eighth to seventh in the standings, which left him only 37 points behind sixth place rider Craig Treble, although he's only eight markers ahead of Peggy Llewellyn. Johnson defeated Treble in the second round of eliminations, which had a dramatic impact on both men's positions.
"That was a huge win for us," Johnson acknowledged, "but we're still not where we want to be. I'll admit I'm a little more comfortable, but there are still two races to go, and I don't see anybody ahead of us slowing down.
"Being part of the first-ever Countdown deal would be awesome. Yeah, I know everyone's part of it, but I'm talking about being one of those 8 people who go for the championship. That would really be something special."
Johnson continues to hold down 8th place in the race to be part of the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle, which takes place during the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend.
"I'd love to have our Snap-on Suzuki in the Battle," Johnson said, "but the big prize is still the POWERade championship. If we can keep our momentum going, I think we're going to be all right."
In a professional career that spans 21 seasons, Steve's mom, Betty, had never seen him win a round of racing in person. "Well, now she has," Johnson said with obvious pleasure. "She's seen plenty of my races on TV, but never saw me win a round 'live!'"
Johnson's team once again hosted a group of WyoTech Technical School student enrollees in his pit area on Friday, this after Johnson had visited the Sacramento WyoTech campus Thursday afternoon. Tomorrow, Monday, Johnson will make an appearance at the Fremont WyoTech campus in the morning, and will appear at the Snap-on Tools Diagnostic Center in San Jose in the afternoon.
Johnson and crew chief Mark Peiser are committed to an on-track testing program to help solidify their chances of remaining in championship contention when qualifying begins for the U.S. Nationals on August 31st. That will mean Johnson has made it into the Top 8 the standings.
The team has a brand new engine that's almost ready for dyno testing, and if things go well there, on-track testing as well. Johnson hopes to have the powerplant available for the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota August 9th.
As Johnson put it, "I'm spending like I'm John Force. It's not like I have a checkbook like his, but you know that when the pressure is on Force, he'll do whatever it takes to win. I feel the same way. I'm going to keep doing whatever it takes to throw gasoline on the fire.
"I feel like we're hot right now, and I'll do whatever we have to do to keep throwing gas on that fire. There's a fire burning in me because I've never felt like I was this close to being a championship contender before."
Next: NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals, Brainerd International Raceway, Brainerd, MN., August 9-12.