KJ Stung by Semifinal Finish in Indy Under normal circumstances, Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team would be relatively satisfied with their semifinal finish in Monday's final eliminations of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals ...
KJ Stung by Semifinal Finish in Indy
Under normal circumstances, Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team would be relatively satisfied with their semifinal finish in Monday's final eliminations of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN. After all, starting from the fifth position, KJ had used a combination of lightning-fast reaction times and strong runs to defeat Justin Humphreys and defending Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin to advance to the third round for the tenth time in this season's 18 races, marking yet another strong performance in what has been a championship contending year.
However, there were other factors surrounding the outcome that magnified their disappointment. The NHRA's annual visit to O'Reilly Raceway Park is viewed as the biggest race of the year, and one that every driver wants on his on her resume. With impressive performances in the earlier rounds, KJ had established himself as one of the favorites, as he looked to capture his third U.S. Nationals trophy.
Unfortunately, despite posting the quickest time of the round at 6.716 seconds with a top speed of 205.69 mph, Kurt was unable to overcome rival David Connolly's starting line advantage, putting an early end to his day.
"The ACDelco Cobalt crew came into this weekend looking to win the race and take the points lead heading into the playoffs. Unfortunately, the driver was a little late and we came up short. Although Dave took so long to stage in the semis that I thought he had broken, I was fully focused and ready. After all, I've been in that situation before and was killer on the tree. In fact, when I let the clutch out, I thought I was good.
"I can't really say what happened. I had cut it a little close in the first two rounds, especially with that .002 in the second round against Jeggie, so we had backed off the air gap. We might have given it a little too much distance. On top of that, that red light in Reading was in the back of my mind, so that may have also played a part.
"Even so, we're just going to shake it off. It would have been a different story if I hadn't had a .22, a .13 and a .002 in my last three runs. In fact, I hadn't had a light that bad since Seattle, so it really is not an issue or a concern. Every now and then, you're going to have one of those lights, and today just happened to be the day, and it could have been a lot worse."
The other unfortunate ramification of KJ's premature exit was that it prevented him from taking the top seed heading into the NHRA's postseason, the Countdown to One. However, having secured the second position earlier in the day, he remained confident about his chances of securing this year's POWERade Pro Stock championship.
"Certainly the thirty point bonus would have been nice to have going into the playoffs, but we don't need it to win the championship. After all, we're starting off the Countdown to One in a better position than eight other racers, so we'll take the information we gathered this weekend, regroup and move on. Our ACDelco Cobalt is running pretty well right now, and everyone on the team is doing a great job. We're in good shape and have our sights set on these next six races. The fun is about to begin."