Bristol: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ is Seeing Double in Thunder Valley ACDelco Cobalt crew targets back-to-back wins at O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals Sugar Hill, Ga., May 12, 2008 -- After knocking on the door several times in previous races, Kurt Johnson and his ACDelco...

KJ is Seeing Double in Thunder Valley
ACDelco Cobalt crew targets back-to-back wins at O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals

Sugar Hill, Ga., May 12, 2008 -- After knocking on the door several times in previous races, Kurt Johnson and his ACDelco Cobalt Racing team finally broke through with their first win of the 2008 POWERade Drag Racing season ten days ago in Madison, IL. Although it was a tremendous boost of confidence for the entire team, after a celebratory dinner their focus immediately turned to preparing for this weekend's O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, TN. After all, every detail must once again be addressed in order to duplicate that winning performance at Bristol Dragway.

"Just like butter, we're looking to stay on a roll," quipped Johnson. "Our ACDelco Cobalt has been a pretty good car throughout the year. We threw a bunch of different combinations at it early on and then let it be for the first 40 runs. Over the last 25 passes, however, we've been doing a little investigating finding out exactly what it likes, and for those eight runs in St. Louis we were right on target.

"Fortunately, the combination we used last week was the same one we had in the car at our test session in Bristol before the Atlanta race, so it's already been down the track in Thunder Valley. We put it through the goalposts six times in a row back then, and now, having a total of 20 runs with this set-up, we're going to Tennessee with some confidence."

Even though their success in St. Louis did nothing to alter their pre-race preparations for their trip to Thunder Valley, with 37 national event wins to his credit, Johnson is well aware of the influence any victory has on a race team. Combining this positive momentum with the confidence of returning to a track where he has won in the past has the second-generation racer looking forward to getting started on Friday afternoon.

"The biggest benefit from any win is the positive effect it has on team morale," said Johnson. "For example, it helps to put a little extra money in their pockets, which is never a bad thing. It also shows them that we can win, and even though it doesn't make it any easier to do it again, it puts them in the right mindset. Having done it once, everyone works that much harder to do it again, and this ACDelco Cobalt crew certainly plans to win our share.

"We'll take that positive attitude with us to Bristol. Fortunately, it's only a few hours drive from the shop, so getting there will be nice and relaxing. We've done pretty well there over the years, including winning there in 2003, and can't see any reason why we can't do it again this year. It should be a fun weekend."

Although the rigors of a normal race weekend have become routine for Kurt, this weekend he will experience something completely different, as he will take part in Bristol Dragway's Circle Track Challenge. Following the conclusion of qualifying on Saturday night, Johnson will head over to the legendary oval track at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he will be joining fellow stars of the straight-line set in a 12-lap race around the famed half-mile.

"Saturday night on the oval track promises to be pretty interesting," said Johnson. "I went to a road racing school once with Chevrolet, but this will be my first time in a stock car race, so I'll definitely have to make a few adjustments. For example, every time I see yellow, I hit the gas, and if we see red, we get even madder, so they may want to watch out. At least green still means go.

"Fortunately, they've scheduled some practice time, because I know I'm going to need it. After that, we'll just have to see how it goes. Somehow I just don't see putting a bunch of drag racers on a half-mile, high-banked, concrete oval as a good idea, but I know we'll have fun with it."

-credit: j2r

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson