Career-Best Elapsed Time Helps Kurt Johnson Win in Joliet Joliet, IL, June 11, 2006 - Kurt Johnson returned to the NHRA winner's circle in dramatic fashion on Sunday, taking home the Pro Stock title at the Carquest Auto Parts Nationals in ...
Career-Best Elapsed Time Helps Kurt Johnson Win in Joliet
Joliet, IL, June 11, 2006 - Kurt Johnson returned to the NHRA winner's circle in dramatic fashion on Sunday, taking home the Pro Stock title at the Carquest Auto Parts Nationals in Joliet, IL. Starting from the sixth position, the ACDelco Cobalt driver defeated Mark Pawuk, David Connolly and Jim Yates in the early stages before squaring off against rival and former teammate Greg Anderson in the championship round.
Running without the benefit of lane choice, Johnson knew he would need every advantage in order to score the victory, and left the starting line first with a stellar .012 reaction time jumping ahead by almost four hundredths of a second. The second-generation racer then capped his winning performance with a 6.646-second, 207.46 mph pass, which was the quickest of his entire career, defeating Anderson's slightly quicker 6.641-second effort. It was Johnson's second win of the 2006 POWERade Drag Racing season, second at Route 66 Raceway, and 34th of his career, allowing him to climb to fourth in the championship standings.
"It was a great day for the entire ACDelco Cobalt crew," stated Johnson afterwards. "We made some changes before the first round this morning, and our car responded with a 6.67 against Pawuk. We then came back in the second round against Connolly when the air was a little worse and ran 6.66, which had us really pleased.
"However, we knew we would need to pick it up even further for the final after Greg ran that '.64 in the semis, so we made some more changes. We put in a new rear end and changed the transmission around, made a few calculations and came up with a sweet run. It just took off and ran 6.64, two hundredths quicker than we've ever run before. Greg's one of those guys who brings out the best in you, and today it all worked out in our favor."
Making Johnson's accomplishment even more impressive is that he was able to score this important victory without one of the key members of his crew, Kevin Horst, who had remained in Atlanta to attend a family wedding.
"Unfortunately, Kevin couldn't be with us this weekend, so I ended up building five or six transmissions which is normally his responsibility," said Johnson. "Fortunately, I had watched him and learned how to do it. Even though you have to give your full attention to your area, it's still good to know a little bit about everything that goes on with the team just in case you need to step in. I'm pretty happy with how things turned out, but we're definitely looking forward to having him back with us in Englishtown next weekend.
An added benefit from today's performance was that it gave Johnson a new, productive direction in their race car's tune-up, which could pay dividends in future races. However, before turning his focus on next week's race in Englishtown, NJ Johnson was ready to momentarily enjoy the results of his weekend in the Land of Lincoln.
"We had wanted to try the changes we made today in the last qualifying session yesterday, which, unfortunately was rained out," detailed Johnson. "Even so, we used them this morning realizing we needed to step up in order to challenge for the win. Based on today's results, I would say we have a definite direction in which to take the tune-up, and we're going to keep working towards it."
Finally, Johnson was pleased with his team's recent resurgence, which has seen him climb from 17th in the points standings following the Gainesville race to the fourth position he claimed with today's win, firmly . Even so, he was quick to point out that work remained to be done.
"It's good to go to two final rounds in a row, because it shows what your team is capable of on a consistent basis. This category is so tough that anything can happen, and it feels good to accomplish what we have over the last two races. You can go and test, but what really matters is when you run well at a national event against your competition. There's a lot of hard work and a little luck involved, but we paid attention and did what we needed to do.
"We came in here and ran well right off the bat. However, we were confident we could get better, so we kept working at improving our performance. We knew we had good power, a good race car and great sponsors in ACDelco, Chevrolet, Red Line Oil and Mark Christopher Chevrolet, which helped us end the weekend in the winner's circle after the quickest run of my career today, making up for the bonehead move we made in Topeka (when Johnson lost in the final round). Everything is good right now, but the key is keep it going week after week, and that is what we are focused on doing."