BRISTOL, Tenn., May 14, 2009 -- The performance of Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Chevrolet at the recently completed NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis may have laid the foundation for a strong push into the next phase of the spring Full Throttle Series...
BRISTOL, Tenn., May 14, 2009 -- The performance of Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Chevrolet at the recently completed NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis may have laid the foundation for a strong push into the next phase of the spring Full Throttle Series schedule, and now the veteran Pro Stock driver hopes to nudge the envelope up another notch when the series converges this weekend on Bristol Dragway.
"We're pretty pumped," Johnson said. "We learned some things on the dyno Tuesday morning, and then went out to Commerce (Ga.) to do some testing and worked on a few issues that needed to be addressed that we feel will pick us up over the long haul. We were able to fine-tune the ACDelco Chevrolet with a few runs down the track, and now it's just a matter of heading to Thunder Valley and getting that first win of the year."
Johnson had his best qualifying effort in more than a month at St. Louis when he started the race there from the No. 3 position, and he's hoping that the uptick in the consistency and performance of the ACDelco Chevrolet is a harbinger of things to come.
"At this point of the season, our tune-up is pretty close," Johnson said. "We don't have to make big changes anymore. If we can concentrate on the details, be a little smarter than everybody else, and get the driving job taken care of, then maybe we can run a mile on Sunday."
Through the first seven races of the 2009 schedule, Johnson's ACDelco Chevrolet has qualified in the top half of the field five times and fourth or better three times. Prior to the St. Louis race, Johnson was battling to climb out of a mini slump and the numbers posted at the contest run at Gateway International Raceway indicate that the popular veteran may be past that temporary speed bump.
Not only was Johnson's starting elapsed time of 6.576 seconds at St. Louis the third best for the 16-car field of record, it was also posted during a pressure-packed, abbreviated qualifying format where Johnson left nothing on the table. Consistency, a much sought after commodity among Pro Stock competitors, was once again to be found in the ACDelco camp when Johnson returned for the second round of time trials on Saturday afternoon, and posted the third quickest e.t. of that session
Saturday's performance carried over to race day when in his round-two matchup against Jason Line, Johnson posted the second-quickest e.t. of the session at 6.586 seconds. Unfortunately, his opponent was the only driver of the remaining six that was quicker than the ACDelco Chevrolet and Johnson was eliminated by a mere .006 of a second.
"We were pretty excited about that No. 3 spot in St. Louis," Johnson said. "But at the same time, we know we have to be a little bit better to get that trophy."
Next on the NHRA Full Throttle Series docket is the Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway where Johnson was a winner in 2003. He enters the race eighth in the Pro Stock standings with the potential of advancing far up the points ladder. Johnson sits less than three round wins out of the top five.
"That place (Bristol Dragway) has been awesome," Johnson said. "We've been going there since 1979 and to run in Thunder Valley where you hear the echoes of the headers and the sound of the engines -- it's a cool place to race. It's unique. We're ready to hit it."
The Ninth annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn., on May 15 -- 17 is the eighth race on the 24-event NHRA Full Throttle schedule. A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, May 16, beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern. Coverage on ESPN2 on Sunday, May 17, begins with NHRA Race Day which gets underway at 11 a.m. followed by a three-and-a-half hours of eliminator coverage starting at 7 p.m. (ET).