THE KURT CHRONICLES: CHICAGO EDITION Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Fram Route 66 Nationals Chicago, Ill., June 4-6 TV: ESPN2, June 6, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Eastern - check local listings. HOT TIME IN CHICAGO Kurt Johnson is hoping to...
THE KURT CHRONICLES: CHICAGO EDITION
Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Fram Route 66 Nationals Chicago, Ill., June 4-6 TV: ESPN2, June 6, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Eastern - check local listings.
HOT TIME IN CHICAGO
Kurt Johnson is hoping to be the hottest thing to hit Chicago since Mrs. O'Leary's cow set the town ablaze. Kurt and his ACDelco team will return to the Windy City on June 4-6 for the second annual Fram Route 66 Nationals.
"Route 66 Raceway is a fantastic facility," Kurt observed, "but like many of the tracks that we race on this time of year, it can be tricky when the sun heats up the surface. When we raced there a year ago, the concrete on the starting line seemed a little coarse, but it may have smoothed out by now.
"Our biggest concern now is getting our ACDelco Camaro to be consistent," Kurt declared. "I know that if the car is consistent, we've got the power to put it back in the winner's circle."
DOWN AND OUT IN E-TOWN
Kurt hit a rough patch in the road to the Pro Stock championship when he failed to qualify at the preceding event, the Mopar Parts Nationals in Englishtown, N.J. Kurt's surprising DNQ ended a 55-race qualifying streak that began in October 1996.
"In Atlanta and Englishtown, we haven't been able to keep the car from shaking the tires," Kurt reported. "We set the e.t. record in Richmond, and now it's like the car is totally spent. Maybe it gave everything it had to run 6.840!
"We're dissecting the car piece by piece to see if we can find the cause of the problem," he continued. "We may have something wrong in the chassis like a broken or bent piece of tubing, or a gremlin in the suspension like a bad shock absorber. We're determined to find it.
"When we compared the computer graphs from Englishtown with our runs earlier this season, the curves were identical for the first three tenths of a second - and then the tire speed just goes crazy. We're using the same clutch combination, the same shocks, the same ballast, the same gears. Whatever has changed is a mystery."
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE
After leading the Winston championship since February 28, Kurt now finds himself 20 points behind his father in the standings. K.J. leads No. 3 Richie Stevens by 137 points, a healthy seven-round advantage.
"After the strong start we had his year, it's very frustrating to not be able to get down the race track," Kurt admitted.
"Now we're just going to have to win the championship with 21 races instead of 22. Some stock car fans boo Jeff Gordon because he wins too much, so maybe my DNQ in Englishtown will get some fans on my side. If I had a choice, though, I'd rather be winning!"
ENGLISHTOWN POST-RACE NOTES
* Kurt's DNQ in Englishtown snapped the second longest active qualifying streak in Pro Stock. Kurt and his father Warren were the only drivers who qualified for every event in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Now W.J. stands alone with a perfect qualifying record since the 1987 Gatornationals.
* Changing Times: Kurt earned a place in drag racing history when he ran 6.988 at Englishtown on May 20, 1994 - the first 6-second run in Pro Stock history. Now five years later, K.J.'s 6.980 wasn't good enough to make the cut at the Mopar Parts Nationals. The bump spot for the 16-car field was 6.965 seconds.
* K.J. turned a 200.56 mph top speed in qualifying for the Mopar Parts Nationals - the ninth 200 mph run of his career. Kurt's qualifying speed was faster than the speeds of every Pro Stock driver except his father Warren.
Kurt Johnson's Route 66 Raceway Results: Year Qualified Result 1998 8 Second Round
LAST RACE: Mopar Parts Nationals, May 24, Englishtown, N.J. Qualifying: Kurt Johnson did not qualify (No. 20 at 6.981/200.56 mph)
Eliminations: Final Round: Richie Stevens (6.959/198.00) defeated Tom Martino (6.959/198.23) Low ET: Warren Johnson, 6.875 seconds (track record) Top Speed: Warren Johnson, 201.58 mph (track record)
POINTS RACE: (After 8 of 22 events) Driver Wins Points 1. Warren Johnson 3 643 2. Kurt Johnson 2 623 3. Richie Stevens 1 486 4. Jim Yates 0 426 5. Allen Johnson 1 399