Steve Johnson celebrated a milestone today in the second leg of the Sucrogen Townsville 400 notching up his 400th race start. Coming off a tough race on Saturday, the #17 Jim Beam ‘Honey’ Falcon lined up in 15th place on the grid for the 72 lap race.
Starting again under cooler and cloudy conditions, Johnson rocketed down the inside of the track but could not squeeze past James Moffat into the Turn 1 ‘kink’ and had to back out of it. The usual chaos started at Turn 3 with Ingall, Holdsworh and Caruso all trading blows as Steve got through despite being hit up the rear by Slade. As the race settled Johnson was in 17th position and would hold that through to the first round of Pit Stops. Going on to the soft Dunlop Sprint Tyres, Johnson climbed back to 13th after all 28 cars had pitted. With van Gisbergen a few seconds in front and Bright and Todd Kelly behind Johnson tended to run in a gap again right up the final stop on lap 43. Surprisingly the race had run under green flag conditions to that point unlike the multiple Safety Car interventions yesterday.
Resuming in 14th place Johnson could not quite catch the group in front whilst holding a steady gap to Reindler and a fast finishing D’Alberto. In the final run to the flag he gained another spot on Lap 67 when he passed Courtney. What was not evident to the big Townsville crowd was that Steve was dealing with chronic neck and shoulder pain throughout the race, compounding his discomfort each time he hit a curb.
Commenting on the weekend and in particular his 400th race start Johnson said ““When you look back, it’s a massive achievement. There’s a lot of history. I can still remember my first Bathurst in 1994, and I can still remember trying to kick Dad out of the seat for all those years! That eventually happened in 2000. It’s still a privilege for me to be here.” Steve acknowledged. “Today was a tough one. I was not in great shape with my neck and shoulder giving really me a hard time. But we got through and banked some points and actually moved up a spot in the Championship. The car showed some good signs over the weekend and was pretty kind on its tyres.” Steve concluded.