Denver: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ is Ready to Do Some High-Speed, High-Altitude Prospecting in Denver; ACDelco Cobalt crew aims for third win at Bandimere Speedway Sugar Hill, Ga., July 8, 2008 -- The city of Denver was founded in 1858 as part of the Pikes Peak Gold Rush,...

KJ is Ready to Do Some High-Speed, High-Altitude Prospecting in Denver; ACDelco Cobalt crew aims for third win at Bandimere Speedway

Sugar Hill, Ga., July 8, 2008 -- The city of Denver was founded in 1858 as part of the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, as early pioneers came to the banks of the South Platte River in search of their fortune. One hundred and fifty years later, a new breed of prospectors will arrive in the Centennial State to pursue their own precious metal, the NHRA "Wally". In this case, however, the value of the object is not what is important, but rather, what it stands for, as ACDelco Cobalt racer Kurt Johnson and other stars of straight-line racing head to scenic Bandimere Speedway this weekend hoping to take home the Mile-High Nationals winner's trophy.

To do so, KJ will need a combination of skill and luck, much like their prospecting predecessors. But instead of sifting through cartloads of water and rocks for golden nuggets, the red, white and blue crew will be working on ways to extract crucial horsepower from the thin Colorado air, a challenge the second-generation racer truly looks forward to.

"I know some people might say otherwise, but I think it's fun racing in Denver," said Johnson. "It all starts with the racetrack. Bandimere Speedway is just a great place to race, and the Bandimere family and their staff are tremendous, making sure the racers and fans are well taken care of. We've been fortunate to win there twice before, and it's one of the places our ACDelco Cobalt crew really likes going to.

"I also enjoy the challenge of racing in the altitude. It's a matter of being smarter than everyone else, figuring out what your car wants to be quicker than your competition. To be honest, we've been off the last couple years on the mountain, and we'll be at somewhat of a disadvantage this year since we weren't able to test there before the race.

"But we're not going to worry about what's behind us. We're just going to focus on doing the best we can, qualifying well in the night session on Friday and going rounds on Sunday. It's a formula that's worked pretty well for us so far this year."

To this point, it has been a productive 2008 for the younger member of the Johnson racing family. In the first two races, he is one of only two Pro Stock drivers to score multiple wins, and having lead the points standings for several races, comes into this event in second place. Although many of his colleagues would be more than pleased with such a strong performance, KJ knows further improvement is possible, and with half the season remaining, there is still a lot of work to be done.

"If our grade was based simply on where we are in the points standings, we'd get about an A-, but looking at the way I think things should be, I would give us a B for the first half," said Johnson. "Although we won two races where we dominated, I believe there were a couple we should have won that we didn't. Besides, we still don't have a perfect combination for our ACDelco Cobalt, making it a little temperamental at times.

"It's all a part of racing in Pro Stock. The competition is so tight that it's hard to win on a consistent basis. That's the key -- being able to perform every time down the track. We've been pretty fair so far, winning a couple Full Throttle awards (given to the most consistent team in qualifying) and lead the season standings in that category, but we're going to keep working to get even better. After all, we are overdue in Denver."

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson