Joliet II: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ Ready to Break Out Championship Comeback in Joliet ACDelco Cobalt crew Targets Ameriquest NHRA Nationals Win Sugar Hill, Ga., September 26, 2005 -- Throughout the history of sports, there have been a series of tremendous comebacks. For...

KJ Ready to Break Out Championship Comeback in Joliet

ACDelco Cobalt crew Targets Ameriquest NHRA Nationals Win

Sugar Hill, Ga., September 26, 2005 -- Throughout the history of sports, there have been a series of tremendous comebacks. For example, the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals won eight straight games to overcome a 6 ½-game lead by the Philadelphia Phillies in the final twelve games to win the National League pennant. In a 1999 NFL playoff game, the Buffalo Bills, behind four touchdown passes by backup quarterback Frank Reich, stormed back from a 35-3 deficit to defeat the Houston Oilers 38-35 in overtime. Finally, few can forget the Red Sox dramatic American League Championship Series win over the rival Yankees one year ago, winning four straight games after falling behind 3-0 in their best-of-seven series.

There have been equally improbable turnarounds in the world of racing. In 1992, independent NASCAR racer Alan Kulwicki roared back from 278 points behind in the final six races to edge Bill Elliott and powerhouse team owner Junior Johnson for that year's Winston Cup championship.

At this weekend's Ameriquest NHRA Nationals in Joliet, IL, ACDelco Cobalt pilot Kurt Johnson will look to begin his own dramatic climb back towards the top of the POWERade Pro Stock points standings. Although admitting the task will be far from easy, both he and his team are ready to take the battle to their opponents.

"Our goal is to win these last four races and see what happens," stated Johnson. "As long as we have any chance of winning this championship, this ACDelco Cobalt crew is going to give it our all. Certainly, we know we have absolutely no room for mistakes, and we'll need a little help from our competitors taking out the current points leader in the early rounds, but this chase is not over. The way we see it, anything is still possible, so we're not about to give up. The best way to put it is that we have 31 national event wins and we're shooting for 35 by the end of the year."

Almost appropriately, this weekend the POWERade Drag Racing Series will compete at Route 66 Raceway, site of one of the more improbable wins in Johnson's illustrious career. After squeezing his way into the field on his final qualifying attempt, capturing the fifteenth starting spot on Saturday afternoon, the second-generation racer put on a show on race day.

In the first round, Johnson eliminated close friend and No. 2 qualifier Scott Geoffrion on a hole shot with a lightning-quick .012 reaction time. He then overcame a lack of lane choice in the next two rounds to overpower Bruce Allen and Greg Stanfield, before capping his day with a final round defeat of Jeg Coughlin to capture the 27th national event win of his career. Ironically, that win elevated Johnson into the Pro Stock points lead, something he hopes to move towards with similar performance in Joliet this weekend.

"That 2003 race was certainly one of our more memorable wins," recalled Johnson. "Although we had won a few races earlier in the year, we came into Joliet in a bit of a dry spell. Knowing we needed a strong performance to stay in the points chase, we put some good runs together and stormed back from fifteenth to win. You go in to every race expecting to win, but to come from behind like that was pretty special.

"The track should be pretty good, as it always is. The forecast is calling for cool temperatures in the mid 60's and low 70's, which makes personal bests and, it it's cool enough, even a national record a possibility. Hopefully, this weekend the ACDelco crew will be on top of our game right off the bat, so we can match that winning performance from two years ago, and see what happens from there."

Notes on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team entering the Ameriquest NHRA Nationals:

* KJ's Record in Joliet: This will be Kurt's 13th appearance at Route 66 Raceway, where he has one win in 2003, two No. 1 qualifying performances and a 13-9 elimination round record.

* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.665 sec., Seattle, WA, 7/22/05

* Career best top speed: 207.15 mph, Seattle, WA, 7/22/05

-j2r

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Greg Stanfield , Bruce Allen , Scott Geoffrion , Junior Johnson , Alan Kulwicki