Commerce: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ Maximizes Short Work Week to Prepare for Atlanta ACDelco crew puts in long hours to cover all the bases for the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals Sugar Hill, Ga., May 3, 2006 -- For the second time this season, the NHRA's POWERade...

KJ Maximizes Short Work Week to Prepare for Atlanta
ACDelco crew puts in long hours to cover all the bases for the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals

Sugar Hill, Ga., May 3, 2006 -- For the second time this season, the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series will be competing on consecutive weekends, heading directly from Bristol, TN to Commerce, GA for the running of the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac. With only four days between events, teams will be working overtime to make the 230-mile drive and complete their between-race maintenance and repairs.

However, following a challenging weekend in Tennessee, the short week presents an even greater challenge for Kurt Johnson and his ACDelco Cobalt crew, who face an abnormally hectic schedule prior to the first qualifying session at Atlanta Dragway.

"The ACDelco crew has been on it since Bristol," said Johnson. "Right after the semifinals, we pulled the motor, which had been smoking during eliminations, out of my Cobalt and loaded it into our shop pickup and drove back to Georgia, so we could start working on it.

"After making some headway with the engine on Monday morning, I did a quick media tour in the Greenville -- Spartanburg area in the afternoon, talking about this weekend's race with the TV stations there. At the same time, Kevin and Justin (ACDelco crewmembers Horst and Belfance) stayed in Tennessee getting the transmission fixed on our hauler.

"I then got back to work on both Dad's (six-time champion Warren Johnson) and my engines, while the guys will hop on the car when they get back to Sugar Hill. We'll take a little time on Wednesday night to sign autographs at Jim Hardman Pontiac in Gainesville, but other than that, we will be wide open getting ourselves ready for a good weekend in Atlanta."

After an uncharacteristically slow start, the Johnson-led crew has started to display the trademark performance that has made them a perennial title contender. With a win and a semifinal finish in their last two races, the team has jumped seven positions in the championship standings and looks to continue their forward motion this weekend at their home track.

Located just 20 minutes north of the team's headquarters in Sugar Hill, the Commerce quarter-mile has been the site of some family and NHRA racing history, as in 1993 the two Johnsons squared off in the sport's first father-and-son professional final round, with the senior member taking home the win. Having captured his own Atlanta winner's trophy in 1996, KJ looks to add to his collection this weekend.

"A lot has been made about Atlanta being our home track, but the only real differences between racing here and at any other track is that we sleep at home, know the back roads into the track, and the size of the party if we win," stated Johnson. "In fact, since I last won there in 1996, I consider myself as being in a bit of a slump there.

"Having said that, I believe we should be in the thick of things this weekend. We have our ACDelco Cobalt dialed in, we'll have any engine issues we may have had straightened out, and everyone on the team is focused on getting the job done. I'd say this team is overdue for a home win."

-j2r-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson