Gainesville: Kurt Johnson preview

It's been five months since anyone other than Kurt or Warren Johnson stood in the Pro Stock winner's circle. Warren started the Johnson family's winning streak last October with a victory in Houston. Then Kurt won at a rain-delayed race in Dallas...

It's been five months since anyone other than Kurt or Warren Johnson stood in the Pro Stock winner's circle. Warren started the Johnson family's winning streak last October with a victory in Houston. Then Kurt won at a rain-delayed race in Dallas and scored back-to-back wins in Pomona, Calif., at the season-ending and season-opening events. Four weeks ago in Phoenix, it was Warren's turn to get the big trophy and the big check.

Now Kurt is aiming to make it six straight for the Johnson clan at the Mac Tools Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., on March 16-18. As the disclaimers in ads for mutual funds clearly state, past results are no guarantee of future performance - but based on the results of K.J.'s new ACDelco Cavalier to date, Kurt has never been in a better position to capture his first Gatornationals title.

Kurt's compact ACDelco Cavalier Z24 set track speed records in the first two events of the season and propelled Johnson to second place (behind his father) in the Winston championship standings. Johnson dominated in Pomona, but stumbled in Phoenix when he was upset in the second round.

"We just couldn't get the car to go over the bump in the left lane in Phoenix, and it really cost us the race," Kurt recalled. "We'll have a fast, flat track in Gainesville and we'll see just how fast this car can really run. If the conditions are good, I'd be surprised if we didn't see high 6.70s at 203 mph."

Johnson's previous best performance at the Gatornationals was a runner-up finish to W.J. in 1999. Gainesville Raceway's notoriously tricky starting line has consigned Kurt to several early-round losses in his other visits to sunny Florida.

"If the sun is shining and the temperature is hot, that track can get pretty slick," Kurt commented. "We haven't raced the new Cavalier under those conditions yet. I'm optimistic that the new traction compound that NHRA is using will help, along with the clutch dust collectors that the fuel cars are now using.

"The truth is that the track will be the same for everyone, and it's our job to figure out how to get down it," Johnson noted. "My Cavalier's aerodynamic package really seems to work; the spoiler keeps the rear tires glued to the track from second gear to the finish line.

"If we can get the 60-foot times to where they should be, I'd say there is a good chance there will be a Johnson in the winner's circle for the sixth straight race. I just hope it's me!" <pre> KURT JOHNSON'S GATORNATIONALS RESULTS

Year  Qual.  Result
1993    3    Second Round
1994    8    First Round
1995    8    Semi Final
1996    4    First Round
1997    2    Semi-Final
1998    2    Semi Final
1999    2    Runner-up (to W. Johnson)
2000   12    Second Round

-GM Racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson