Englishtown: GM Racing Saturday summary

Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Chevrolet Becomes First Cobalt To Land A Pro Stock Pole In NHRA Pro Stock Cruz Pedregon's Chevy Monte Carlo Rockets To No. 1 Spot In Funny Car ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., June 18, 2005 - Kurt Johnson captured his first raceday...

Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Chevrolet Becomes First Cobalt To Land A Pro Stock Pole In NHRA Pro Stock

Cruz Pedregon's Chevy Monte Carlo Rockets To No. 1 Spot In Funny Car

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., June 18, 2005 - Kurt Johnson captured his first raceday pole this season and delivered the first ever No. 1 qualifying spot for the Chevy Cobalt in NHRA Pro Stock competition today at the 36th annual K & N Filters Super Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. The 42-year-old Johnson moved to the top of the qualifying leader board after last night's run of 6.675 seconds at 206.48 mph, and looked just as strong during today's final session of time trials when he turned in the quickest lap of the afternoon at 6.690 seconds.

"When we came here our initial goal was just to keep the car straight," said Johnson. "But I think we found a real nice sweet spot to work with. You want to be able to tune the car whether you're racing on a 120 degree racetrack or an 85 degree racetrack, without making a lot of changes and that's what we've been able to do. We keep throwing stuff at the car and it gets better and better - I think we have a real hot rod here. As far as the body style (Cobalt), we kept working on it to run the kind of speeds we knew it could run, and now compared to where dad (Warren Johnson) has his car right now, the Cobalt looks to be about a half-mile faster than the Pontiac.

"When we came out with the new Cobalt the chassis was completely different than my Cavalier. Even though it shined at Bristol it threw us a curve because it had too much bite, so we had to calm it down. Now it wants to go down the race track, it's making great numbers on the computer, and it's just a matter of pinpointing them and making the right adjustment."

It is the 24th career pole for Kurt Johnson, his third at this event (1994, 1998, 2005) and his first since the 2003 U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Over the past four races, Johnson's ACDelco Chevy Cobalt has been on quite a performance run recording a qualifying effort of second at Columbus (Ohio), third at Topeka (Kansas) and second last weekend at Chicago. His only final-round appearance this season came at Columbus following his strong showing there in time trials, and he's hoping to parlay his strong pre-eliminator effort this weekend into his first win of the year.

"It's like any other Sunday, you have to let the clutch out before the other guy," said Johnson. "If we can do that then we have the horse to ride. That always helps. Like I said last week, the driver has to be perfect and the car has to be perfect because they're both usually not perfect at the same time, and one has to make up for the other at some point in the race."

Points leader Greg Anderson is qualified in the No. 2 spot in the Summit Racing Pontiac after running 6.697 seconds at 205.66 mph, the first time this season that the two-time NHRA champion has started raceday from that position.

"We're struggling with the racetrack right now, we certainly haven't mastered it," said Anderson. "We haven't made a good smooth run yet and haven't got a handle on it with either my car of Jason's car. We're looking for that magical set up and we know there's a lot more potential in the Summit Racing Pontiac, we just have to figure it out before tomorrow. We're putting our heads together to try and get it done. The air is certainly good enough, we're just missing it on the racetrack. The 6.69 yesterday was a good time but it wasn't a good clean run either. You saw Kurt (Johnson) run a 6.67 and he did a good job on the racetrack. We made some moves this morning to try and fix it and it looks like we went the wrong way. Maybe that should tell us which direction to go."

Warren Johnson is qualified in the No. 4 position in the GM Performance Parts Pontiac with an e.t. of 6.702 seconds at 206.20 mph. Jim Yates' Pontiac made one of the quickest runs of the day, and broke into the 16-car field with a pressure-packed performance this morning of 6.709 seconds at 204.76 mph.

"We really put ourselves behind the eight-ball last night," said Yates. "We had a transmission failure of some sort that caused the shifter to fail right off the starting line and it choked up some clutch pieces as well. Jamie (Yates) did a good job getting the clutch just right this morning and the car went out and did what it was supposed to do. It's impressive when can you go out there in a session like that and be the second fastest car. It's so close to raceday conditions that it makes you look forward to Sunday. Regardless of where you're qualified, you're never really safe in this class. Every time you go up there you know there are a thousand moving pieces in one of these Pro Stock cars, and if one them goes bad you're not going to get in. You have to make the most of every opportunity. We thought we could run a 6.69 or 6.70 given the conditions so it was rather rewarding to be able to go as quick as we had planned. I thought we made a really nice run and that's the important thing."

Jason Line will start Sunday's race with his Pontiac qualified in the No. 7 spot and Dave Connolly has his Chevy Cobalt qualified ninth.

"We're learning some things that hopefully on Sunday will show up," said Line. "We're struggling with the first part of the racetrack we're and not getting the car hooked up at all - that's our big issue right now. We're learning though, and the important thing is that we're in the show, collecting data and working on a good tune-up for Sunday. We have enough power to get the job done, we just have to hook it up."

In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon drove the Advance Auto Parts Chevy Monte Carlo to his 31st career pole and his first No. 1 qualifying spot since last year's Pontiac Performance Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. Pedregon captured the lead starting position for Sunday's eliminator with a 4.791 e.t. at 316.45 mph, but during his last qualifying attempt today, Pedregon's Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet ended up in the sand traps and suffered major structural damage when its parachutes failed to open.

"The parachute came out but it didn't blossom - it ripped," explained Pedregon. "When that happens it doesn't work. I went for my secondary chute but by that time the sand was coming up pretty fast. I knew I was going for a ride but that gravel slowed the car pretty quick.

"It was good run though. Wes (Cerny) wanted to make sure we got down the track and I thought for sure with this cloud cover we'd have a new No. 1 qualifier. I'm happy for my team. It was a good moral booster for us, we've been knocking on the door, Wes Cerny, Ron Douglas, Sam Shockley, it's a good time for us right now. Like Larry Dixon said earlier, what we do in qualifying is nice, it's great, we're No. 1, but tomorrow's a new day and I hope we can keep our car fast and win the race."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Cruz Pedregon , Jason Line , Dave Connolly