KJ Looks to Pull a Win Out of Thin Air in Denver
ACDelco Cobalt crew to reference notes from previous Mile-High successes
Sugar Hill, Ga., July 11, 2007 -- This weekend's stop on the POWERade Drag Racing circuit is arguably the most unique among the 20 different tracks the NHRA will visit throughout the course of the year. Nestled in the side of the mountains in the Denver suburb of Morrison, CO, Bandimere Speedway offers a tremendous view of the Mile-High City.
However, those responsible for tuning the naturally aspirated Pro Stock Cars for this weekend's Mile-High Nationals will have little time to enjoy the scenery, as they will be working furiously to overcome the lack of power-producing oxygen. With two wins in his previous 14 appearances on the mountain, ACDelco Cobalt racer Kurt Johnson knows that success this weekend will depend on his team's abilities to adapt to these trying conditions, and comes into this event determined to deliver.
"Racing in Denver presents a challenge unto itself, especially in Pro Stock," said Johnson. "The thin Colorado air robs our naturally-aspirated engines of horsepower, so we have to compensate as best we can. We'll be making major changes to our ACDelco Cobalt throughout the weekend, from gear ratios, carburetors to just about everything else. To give you an idea of what we're up against, the elapsed times we'll be running this weekend will be comparable to what we ran at other tracks in the late 80's.
"Fortunately, between Dad (five-time Denver winner Warren) and myself, we've done pretty well at Bandimere, gathering a lot of valuable tuning data, so I guess we'll be hitting the books pretty hard, seeing what we've done in the past before the first qualifying session on Friday. Besides, we ran pretty well in 4000-foot air in Bristol last week, so we're pretty excited heading into this weekend."
This race also marks the beginning of the traditional "Western Swing", with three races in as many weekends in locations ranging from Denver, CO, and Seattle, WA to Sonoma, CA. A difficult challenge on its own, it takes on added significance this year for two reasons. Due to the rescheduled Bristol event, these three races will mark the second half of a grueling six-week period where the NHRA will compete on consecutive weekends.
In addition, with only five races before the start of the second segment of the newly installed Countdown to the Championship, teams will be battling to make sure they are among the top eight heading into the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN. Not surprisingly, the Johnson-led crew will limit their focus to the immediate task at hand, as they look to use the Colorado race as a mid-season springboard.
"We're not going to worry about things we can't control, such as how many races we have until the Countdown, or how many consecutive weekends we're racing on - our minds are only so big, so we only pack in what we really need," quipped Johnson. "Just as we do every week, this ACDelco Cobalt crew is going to concentrate on this race, taking it one step at a time, starting with Q1 on Friday. After all, whether we're first or sixth in the points or racing at sea-level or 5,800 feet, the object of this game remains the same -- to reach the finish line first. The way we see it, if we do that four times on Sunday, everything else will take care of itself."