There’s no discussion. Nothing to talk about. No doubt about it. zMax Dragway in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the finest purpose-built motorsports facilities in North America. From its unique four-lane capability, to its glass-smooth racing surface, to its superior spectator amenities, the track is one of the finest ever built – and Irondale, Alabama’s Steve Johnson loves it!
“There’s no explanation for it,” Johnson says, “but there’s just something about this track that’s made it a lucky place for us. We won the inaugural race at Zmax Dragway a couple of years ago, and back in March, when we raced four-wide, we made it to the final round. That was pretty exciting, but winning would have been even better. That’s what we’re after this coming weekend.
“Everyone always tries to be ‘nice’ in press releases, and say all the right stuff, but there’s no getting around it – we need a win, and we need one badly. If we have any hopes of winning this year’s NHRA Full Throttle championship we’ve got to make a big move this coming weekend. I’ll be even more blunt. We’ve either got to beat our biggest rivals on the way to the final round, or someone else has to beat ‘em for us. There’s just no other way of getting to the top of the points list.”
Johnson has had one heck of a season – even without an outright victory. He’s qualified for the NHRA Countdown to 1 championship run, and he’s made national event final round appears – all without a major sponsor.
“We’re obviously continuing to work towards signing a major backer,” Johnson says, “and I think we’ve done pretty well without one, but still trying to be honest, you can’t imagine how difficult it is to race without a major sponsor. There are a lot of Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors out here with good support, and I’m glad for those people. Now we’ve got to sign one for ourselves, and performing well on the track will certainly help.
“Ya know, we’re just getting into the third week of the college football season, and Alabama’s Crimson Tide are ranked Number 1. That is so awesome cool for our State. We’d love to see Alabama in the BCS Championship game in January, maybe against our other big-time team, the Auburn Tigers, but I know that can’t happen. Still, it’s cool to dream about. But, before we see that championship game we’d like to see our Suzuki rolled into the winners circle as the Full Throttle winner.
“Two champions from Alabama? That’d be pretty cool! But it all starts this coming weekend in North Carolina. This has to be one of those no-mistakes-races. Everything has to break just right for us. Our one constant is knowing that crew chief Tim Kulungian with Anthony Lum and Rick Elmore are going to have our Suzuki ready to run. Then it’s up to me to get the riding job done.
“Pressure? There’s no emotional pressure on me!” Johnson said with a laugh.