Steve Johnson needed to complete a Hail Mary pass in order to get back in the race for the Camping World NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle and he did just that by beating Karen Stoffer in the all-Suzuki final. Johnson, a title contender for one of the few times in his 34-year career, won for the third time this season and the 11th time in his career after Stoffer fouled in the final round.
“It’s so cool to be in this fraternity with [fellow winners] like Steve Torrence and to be able to represent our sport,” said Johnson. “It took me 17 years to win my first national event, 2004 in St. Loius. After ten years, my mom was like, ‘How about lawn care, dentistry, or something else?’ The truth is I’m a sucker for the sport.
“It is very special to win this 1,000th NHRA event and the money is also like life blood for us,” Johnson said. “I’m just happy to be depositing a check for once.”
From the No. 2 qualifying spot, Johnson tallied victories against Charles Poskey, Angie Smith, and fellow championship contender Angelle Sampey. In the final, he ran a 6.869 against Stoffer’s 6.831.
Johnson emerged as a legitimate title threat late last season when he fitted his Suzuki with the new four valve Monster engine combination. This season, he has been inconsistent at times, but has earned wins in Charlotte and Reading to go with a runner-up in Norwalk.
With one event remaining, Smith remains the leader with Johnson just 20 points back and Sampey still in the mix, 30 points out of first. Smith and Sampey have plenty of combined experience in tight championship battles while this is a new endeavor for Johnson.
“I really, really want to bring home a championship. Matt [Smith] has four and Angelle [Sampey] has three and I want one. I’m so disappointed that we let one get away in Bristol but we’ve got a chance to go to Pomona and finish it.”
Stoffer, who was also a runner-up two weeks ago in Bristol and a winner in Sonoma, continued her recent hot streak. Celebrating her 25th season as a pro, Stoffer rode her Big St. Charles/Skillman Auto Group Suzuki to wins against Kelly Clontz, Jerry Savoie, and reigning champ Smith.