The veteran of many Toyota AMA Arenacross Series and Monster Energy® Supercross battles, Johnson is actually on a double high in that his wife, Jennifer, is just a couple short months away from giving birth to their first child.
If the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series had a stand-up comedy division, Keith Johnson would be on the podium every night. Given that, it’s no funny matter that he’s also got the speed to smoke the world’s fastest arenacross racers – especially now that his knee (MCL) is pretty much healed up.
After a bit of a slow start coming out of the 2007-’08 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series gate in Des Moines (Iowa), Johnson is now hitting on all cylinders. Johnson took some time out of his busy schedule to do an interview for arenacross.com.
Arenacross.com: Keith, first off, congrats on your win in Grand Rapids. That’s got to have you pumped considering how the first portion of the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series went for you.
Keith Johnson: “Yeah, no doubt. What’s it been, since Reno or Charlotte last year, since I’ve won? That holeshot definitely helped.”
Arenacross.com: Not many people are aware of the extent you injured your knee. Tell us what happened.
Keith Johnson: “Well, I’d been riding a bunch. Wait. Rewind that. In 2006 I broke my lower leg and I’m pretty sure that weakened my MCL. So towards the end of September (2007) I crashed right before the U.S. Open and that’s when I really hurt it. Ended up getting an MRI and the doc said ‘No riding for six to eight weeks.’”
Arenacross.com: Yeah, but wasn’t Des Moines three weeks later?
Keith Johnson: “It was. And I pretty much sucked. I went 8/11 which, after all the time I put in riding this summer, was really disappointing. But I knew that in the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series all the rounds are important, so I got what points I could and just dealt with the pain.”
Arenacross.com: You picked it up and did better at Albany with a 6th, then dipped at Reno (12th/15th) before almost making the podium at Rockford (4th/5th). At that point you had to be one of the racers loving the holiday break for the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series.
Keith Johnson: “The break gave me a good opportunity to recover and come back strong. Kevin and I would ride every day, no matter if it was cold, raining or what. We did that last summer, too. Just went out and ran‘er hard, and I’d work hard to not let Kevin pull me. So riding with him helped a lot.”
Arenacross.com: So what clicked for you then in Grand Rapids?
Keith Johnson: “In Grand Rapids I had a feeling that I was faster than I was in Rockford – and I had raced pretty well in Rockford. Not spectacular, but I was riding better than I had earlier in the year. So all I thought about was the holeshot and making the Triple/Triple – which I was able to do on about 20 of the 25 laps. It was definitely a good win. Reminds me I can win on a 250F with somebody like Brock (Sellards) pressuring me the whole race. That showed my endurance is up and I’m definitely expecting to be up on the podium more now.”
Arenacross.com: Did you put away a lot of FiberWise pasta over the holidays to help with your endurance?
Keith Johnson: “Yeah, that and a lot of holiday cookies (laughter). For real, though, the FiberWise pasta is good stuff. I buy it at the store all the time. Keeps my endurance up.”
Arenacross.com: So is the knee 100-percent?
Keith Johnson: “It hasn’t been bothering me as much, but I didn’t have surgery or anything. I had an MRI and it showed a 3rd degree tear. I wasn’t released to race until Reno and the doc said it’d heal up on its own if I didn’t re-injure it training. So I’d say it’s about 90-percent good-to-go now.”
Arenacross.com: Keith, good luck in Baltimore this weekend.
Keith Johnson: “Thanks, man. Look forward to seeing everybody at the races.”
2007-’08 Toyota AMA Arenacross Point Standings
1. Chad Johnson, Hon, 163
2. Brock Sellards, Kaw, 158
3. Kelly Smith, Kaw, 155
4. Jim Neese, Suz, 135
5. Kevin Johnson, Yam, 132
Tickets for the Jan. 11-12 Toyota AMA Arenacross at Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena are available through www.arenacross.com, at the 1st Mariner Arena Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets including Baltimore Tickets on Lake Street, Hechts at Security Square Mall, Hechts at White Marsh Mall, Record and Tape Traders, Sound Garden, online at www.ticketmaster.com or charge by phone at (800) 551-7328. Fees and handling may apply. Show time is Friday at Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Sunday (amateurs) at 12:00. Doors open Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m., Sunday at 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday advance tickets are $18 to $20 for adults, $8 for kids ages 2-12. Sunday’s tickets are $18 for adults, $5 for kids. All tickets $2 more day of show.
Tickets for the Jan. 12 Toyota AMA Arenacross at Dallas’ Reunion Arena are available through www.arenacross.com, in advance at American Airlines Center Box Office and day of show at the Reunion Arena Box Office. Charge by phone at (214) 373-8000, fees and handling may apply. Show time is at Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Sunday (amateurs) at 12:00. Doors open Saturday at 6:30 p.m., Sunday at 11 a.m. Saturday advance tickets are $18 to $25 for adults, $5 for kids ages 2-12. Sunday’s tickets are $18 for adults, $5 for kids. All tickets $2 more day of show.