If you thought Matt Smith could pull a championship bike out of the hauler and win on its first pass of the season, Steve Johnson may have something to say about it.
Johnson has appeared in 464 career Pro Stock Motorcycle races, far more than any other rider, and he’s now got 10 wins after riding past reigning champ Matt Smith in the final. Johnson came in holding a sizable performance advantage and never gave an inch as he won easily, 6.720 to 6.811.
“I love this. I tell people, if I had 10 million dollars, I’d still be doing the same thing,” said Johnson. “Find what you love and chase it. Do not stop and beat Matt Smith, no matter what bike he brings.”
Johnson was dominant with a string of 6.7s as he topped Michael Ray, Jimmy Underdahl, and four-time champion Eddie Krawiec.
As for Smith, he’s long been known as one of the sport’s most resourceful racers and he proved it by switching motorcycles before the final. Smith determined that his Suzuki was wounded before the final and with no time to diagnose or fix a problem, he simply unloaded last year’s championship winning Denso Buell from his trailer. Although Smith hadn’t turned a tire on his Buell since last year’s Auto Club Finals, he made a game effort with a 6.811.
RPM Round By Round:
Round 1 - Steve Johnson made his first 200 mph run in qualifying. Michael Ray is making his first start since Dallas last year. He is 1 - 3 against Johnson. Ray with the starting line advantage, but Johnson has the difference made up by 330 feet and never trailed from there on for the win. He runs his career quickest and fastest and sets the track E.T. record. He will have lane choice over Underdahl in the next round.
Round 2 - Johnson is 4 - 2 against Underdahl in prior events. Underdahl with the starting line advantage, but Johnson has the difference made up by the time they go by the Christmas tree. He then runs his quickest and fastest pass of his career and sets both ends of the track record. Steve Johnson's incremental times: 60ft-1.052 sec., 330ft-2.817, 660ft-4.306/164.79 mph, 1,000ft-5.602. He will have lane choice over Krawiec in the semifinal.
Round 3 – Krawiec is 24 - 7 against Johnson in prior events. Krawiec with the starting line advantage, but Johnson chases him down by half track and takes the win. Steve Johnson's MOV: 0.0185 seconds (approximately 5 feet). He will advance to his 28th final round round and will have lane choice over Smith.
Round 4 – Smith is 21 - 13 against Johnson in prior events and Smith is 3 - 1 against Johnson in prior final rounds. Smith had been on a Suzuki all weekend, after the semifinal, he switched and brought out his Buell because he had hurt his Suzuki. Smith with the starting line advantage, but Johnson had the difference made up by the time they went by the Christmas tree and never trailed from there on for the win. He wins his 10th Pro Stock Motorcycle Wally and his first this season.
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Photo: NHRA National Dragster