Ricky Johnson: 2010 Short-Course Off-Road Season Full of Ups and Downs
BARK RIVER, Mich. – With three wins in the 2010 Traxxas TORC Series Presented by AMSOIL season including a sweep at Oshkosh, Ricky Johnson is having a year most racers only dream of.
Johnson, though, is not most racers.
The seven-time AMA Supercross champion still thinks about the Rd. 3 DNF here at Bark River International Raceway in July. The finish represents the only one outside the podium and is the reason he is second in the PRO 2WD points, five markers behind Rob MacCachren.
“That really hurt us in the points,” Johnson said after Saturday morning’s drivers’ meeting. “We were strong at Crandon, had an awesome weekend at Oshkosh, sweeping the weekend. So (the season’s) had its ups and downs, but that DNF definitely hurt us. I’ve always said to win the championship (in the TORC Series) with the competition as strong as it is, you gotta be on the podium.”
Johnson, the former owner of the TORC Series now run and sanctioned by USAC, is far from conceding the season. The multi-faceted racer said he has been always been surrounded by great competitors, a situation that has forced him to dedicate all his focus to the task at hand: winning.
“I’m grateful to have a competitor like Rob. I had guys like that – David Bailey, Johnny O’Mara, Jeff Ward – throughout my career in motocross,” he said. “When I was racing stadium, I raced against Rob and Rob Millen, Ivan Stewart, Walker Evans, and when I was here before, I had Scott Taylor. So I’ve always had an adversary for the top.”
In racing, there have been many champions who have seemingly run away with the title, leaving their competitors in the dust. Johnson has never had that season thanks to the strength of his fellow drivers, regardless of whether he’s racing on two wheels or four.
“You should wake up and pray for the best to be there, so when you win, you feel like you’ve done something. If you’re racing against a bunch of schmucks, then you’re the king of the schmucks and I don’t wanna be that.”
Johnson, MacCachren, Jeremy McGrath, and the rest of the PRO 2 class will face an interesting challenge Aug. 25-26 when NASCAR superstar Kyle Busch makes his off-road racing debut at Chicagoland Speedway. Johnson himself has run NASCAR, making starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the mid-90s, and understands what Busch represents to the TORC Series, its drivers, and its fans.
“NASCAR is the pinnacle and the field is so deep, Sprint Cup is just so thick with talent from the top to the bottom,” Johnson said. “I think when you bring somebody like Kyle Busch who’s controversial, he’s fast, he drives the hell out of everything he drives. He grew up in Legends cars and also him having some sand car experience, I think he’ll jump right in this thing and haul ass.”
When Johnson goes to Chicagoland, he’ll go there solely as a driver in the Traxxas TORC Series Presented by AMSOIL, as he has at every race this season. Ironically, he considers the ability to focus only on his racing as both a blessing and a curse.
“On the one case, I do enjoy just being able to sit back and relax. But the other part that I don’t like is that it makes me focus so much on how can I go faster and sometimes, it doesn’t give me any break from the pressure that I put on myself.”
For more information on the Traxxas TORC Series Presented by AMSOIL, visit them on the Web at TORCSeries.com. For information on the United States Auto Club, visit USACRacing.com. Both sites will also feature live free streaming of all the events on the TORC Series schedule courtesy of GoPro cameras and eBay Motors.
Race fans can follow all the action throughout the TORC Series season on its official Twitter sites at Twitter.com/TORCMedia and its official page on Facebook.