Baytown: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ & Crew are Hungry Heading into Houston Team's learning process continues with new ACDelco Cobalt Sugar Hill, Ga., March 25, 2008 -- For the most part, racers are a forward-looking group. Once an event is over, they quickly put it ...

KJ & Crew are Hungry Heading into Houston
Team's learning process continues with new ACDelco Cobalt

Sugar Hill, Ga., March 25, 2008 -- For the most part, racers are a forward-looking group. Once an event is over, they quickly put it behind them, with their focus immediately shifting to the next race. Naturally, this mindset can change based on the team's performance, with the true test of a team's resolve coming after a less than satisfactory showing.

Such is the case for Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Pro Stock Cobalt Racing team. After their rollercoaster weekend in Gainesville, which saw them finish in a virtual dead heat for the top qualifying position on Saturday following by an uncharacteristically early exit on Sunday, they arrive in Texas determined to use that experience as a building block, as they look to get back on the winning track at this weekend's O'Reilly Spring Nationals.

"We're still disappointed by the way things turned out in Gainesville, but we believe that experience will make us stronger," said Johnson. "We had a car that could win on Saturday, so we should have had one on Sunday, but it just didn't work out that way. Certainly, we're not happy, but we're not going to let the experience of one off day get us down.

"Looking back, I'm confident we could have fixed everything that went wrong on race day, which is what we're concentrating on doing this weekend, making the right calls at the right time, and doing what we do best - winning. We believe this ACDelco Cobalt is overdue for a win, and we're all pretty hungry, so we're pretty pumped up heading into Houston."

Although another tightly-packed Pro Stock field is expected for this weekend's race, Johnson's toughest assignment may be taming the tricky track at Houston Raceway Park. Located in the Houston suburb of Baytown, this venerable facility features the unusual combination of sea-level altitude air, perfect for creating horsepower in the factory hot rods' naturally-aspirated engines, and a time-worn racing surface, putting traction at a premium. As a result, teams will have to walk a fine line when deciding on what kind of set-up to use in their race cars in the crucial first qualifying session.

"One of the biggest challenges this weekend will be getting the power to the ground," said Johnson. "The last few years, the surface at Houston Raceway Park has been rough and bumpy, which, when combined with the extra horsepower you make at that altitude, puts added importance on hitting the set-up right out of the box. It usually gets better as the weekend goes on because there's more rubber put down, but third or fourth gear are definitely an issue. However, it's the same for everyone, so our job is to make sure we make smooth, straight runs starting with Q1 on Friday.

"The sun could also play a major role. We know our ACDelco Cobalt is fast under cool racetrack conditions, but if it's hot out there, we'll have to make some major changes, as we learn what this car wants when the track is slick. We have the ammunition to win -- a fast car and the ability to go rounds. All we need to do is use it to its full potential."

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson