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Steve Johnson Eager to Defend His Title in Bristol

Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle event champion Steve Johnson is eager to return to Bristol Dragway this weekend to fight for back-to-back titles at the Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. It’s the fourth race of the season for motorcycles on their 15-race NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series national tour. 

Last year Johnson, the elder statesman of the class, piloted his Suzuki Hayabusa to his 12th career NHRA national event victory after defeating a red-lighting Gaige Herrera in the final round. It was the first loss of the season for Herrera, the eventual class champion. Johnson started the day from the No. 6 qualifying position and used a hole-shot victory in the first round and a string of 6.80-second elapsed times to reach the money round.

“I really enjoy Bristol Dragway,” said Johnson, “We love going to a Bruton Smith racetrack and it’s a beautiful facility with great fans. It’s exciting to see Super Grip join the racing culture that is so strong in the Bristol area and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it all.”  

Johnson went right back to toiling in his Alabama-based shop following his first-round exit three weeks ago in Chicago. “These long breaks between races are an absolute blessing for a little team like ours, it is extremely valuable. We don’t go on vacation or relax; we dig and dig on the dyno. And it’s amazing because every time we find something. But whether it eventually translates to the racetrack is another issue.”

This will be the third year in a row, and only the fifth time that the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle class has competed at Thunder Valley. With each race Johnson draws closer to becoming the first Pro Stock Motorcycle rider to compete in 500NHRA national events.

In conjunction with that historic accomplishment Johnson and his sponsor Big St. Charles Motorsports, a Suzuki dealership in St. Louis, have entered a one-year campaign celebrating the 25th anniversary of the famed Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle. “I was at Big St. Charles when they debuted the 25th anniversary Suzuki,” said Johnson. “What a beautiful motorcycle.”

The Mission Foods Pro Stock Motorcycle class will qualify twice on Friday and twice again on Saturday to set the 16-bike field for Sunday’s eliminations. For ticket information, visit NHRA.com

This story was originally published on June 6, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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