The Kurt Chronicles: Kurt Johnson Acdelco News & Notes For The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis, Aug. 30-Sept. 2 U.S. Nationals is key to Johnson'S season. One race does not a season make, but a victory at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals,...
The Kurt Chronicles: Kurt Johnson
Acdelco News & Notes For The Mac Tools
U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis, Aug. 30-Sept. 2
U.S. Nationals is key to Johnson'S season.
One race does not a season make, but a victory at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the premier event of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, could redeem Kurt Johnson's entire year. After emerging from a midseason slump, Johnson's performance is peaking at the right time for drag racing's biggest race.
Johnson has twice tasted victory at the U.S. Nationals. He knows there is nothing sweeter than standing in the winner's circle at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
"Indy is still special, and it will always be special," said Johnson. "There are more fans, more cars and more prize money at Indy. That's all the motivation I need to get ready for the U.S. Nationals. Winning Indy for the third time would be the highlight of my season."
Johnson won the U.S. Nationals in 1996 and 1997, following four consecutive Indy victories by his father in 1992-95. Warren was also runner-up in 1998 and won again in 1999 to complete a remarkable streak of eight straight final-round appearances by the Johnson clan.
Johnson intends to continue this family tradition. He tested his ACDelco Cavalier at IRP last week to hone his combination for the marathon five-day event.
"We started with a 6.93 and worked our way down to a 6.88," he reported. "We have a setup that we know will go down the track, so now we're working on finding a little more power.
"The track was better than we expected, and when we got the gearing right the race car came to life," Kurt continued. "The last time I tested before the U.S. Nationals was in 1996 and we won two years in a row, so I'm hoping that pattern holds."
In previous years, the cool conditions that typically prevailed during the first qualifying session on Friday night often set the Pro Stock field. This year's schedule calls for evening sessions on both Friday and Saturday, plus an early session on Sunday morning. These three prime-time sessions will add to the drama of Indy qualifying.
"The schedule will be good for the fans because the e.t.s will keep dropping as the weekend goes on," K.J. predicted. "I just want to be at the top of the list on Sunday night."
Johnson comes into the U.S. Nationals ranked eighth in the POWERade championship standings. While the Pro Stock title is beyond his reach, he has set his sights on a top-five finish.
"A top-five is realistically what we're aiming for now," Johnson conceded. "If we can keep winning rounds and get a win or two along the way, we'll not only achieve our goal, but also get a good head start on next year.
"Preparation is everything, and we're definitely well prepared for Indy," he noted. "We should be able to hit it hard from the first run on Friday, and continue to gather information with every pass. We'll be ready to race on Labor Day."