Kurt Chronicles: Las Vegas Edition

Kurt Johnson is ready for a change of pace and a change of place. The driver of the ACDelco Pro Stock Camaro could use a smile from Lady Luck, perhaps the only personality who is more popular than Elvis in Las Vegas. Kurt hopes that the inaugural...

Kurt Johnson is ready for a change of pace and a change of place. The driver of the ACDelco Pro Stock Camaro could use a smile from Lady Luck, perhaps the only personality who is more popular than Elvis in Las Vegas. Kurt hopes that the inaugural SummitRacing.com Nationals on April 7-9 at the new drag strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will signal a change in his racing fortunes.

"We'll have a new fan base and a brand-new race track in Las Vegas," Kurt comments. "Knowing how the Speedway Motorsports group operates, everything is going to be clean and fresh. Vegas would be a great place to get on a roll."

Kurt has two round wins to his credit after the first three races of the 23-event Winston Drag Racing Series. He's eighth in the points standings and just one round away from a place in the Top Five - a respectable showing in view of the run of bad luck he has experienced this season.

Johnson encountered the guardrail at the season-opening Winternationals when his opponent's out-of-control race car crossed into his lane. In the second race of the season in Phoenix, he qualified in the No. 1 spot and set the Firebird Raceway track records, but lost in the opening round of eliminations with handling problems. At the preceding event in Gainesville, Fla., he won the first round on a holeshot but bowed out in the second round when his car went every way but straight.

If a race car can have a personality, then Kurt's Camaro is a certifiable schizophrenic. "This car has been behaving like Jekyl and Hyde," Kurt confides. "One run it sets a track record and then on the next pass it won't go through first gear without shaking the tires.

"After the problems we had in Gainesville, we added some tubing to stiffen the chassis," Kurt reports. "Then when we went to Atlanta Dragway for a test session, the car just about hit the guardrail. I was absolutely frustrated, so we changed the suspension, changed the weight distribution, and changed the springs - and the car went perfectly straight to the finish line!

"We made two more good runs at Atlanta, so things are definitely looking up for the ACDelco team," Kurt adds.

Although Johnson has not seen the new drag strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he has a good idea of what to expect. "I understand the Las Vegas track was shotpeened and prepared just as was done at Atlanta Dragway," he reveals. "I think we will be a step ahead of the game because we've already run on a similar surface. The altitude and air density will be like what we saw last year in Bristol, Tenn., so we'll start with the same carburetor tuning and gearing that we used at the Winston Showdown.

"By the time we get to Las Vegas, our engine program should be at full speed," Kurt adds. "We have parts and pieces in stock, so the next few days will tell the story."

Although K.J. is excited by the prospect of drag racing in Las Vegas, he doesn't plan to spend much time in the town's famous gaming halls and casinos. "I've been to Las Vegas several times with ACDelco for the SEMA Show," he reports. "I enjoy seeing the sights in Vegas, but I've got a job to do. I think the team and I will spend our time at the race track."

And perhaps Lady Luck will finally smile on Kurt Johnson and his hard-luck ACDelco Camaro in Las Vegas.

LAST RACE:

Mac Tools Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fla., March 19, 2000
Qualifying: Kurt Johnson qualified No. 12 at 6.927/198.99 mph.

Eliminations:
First Round: Kurt Johnson defeated Mark Pawuk
Second Round: Ron Krisher defeated Kurt Johnson

POINTS RACE: (After 3 of 23 events) <pre> Driver Wins Points 1. Jeg Coughlin Jr. 2 290 2. Warren Johnson 1 264 3. Ron Krisher 0 180 4. Troy Coughlin 0 163 5. Mark Pawuk 0 162 8. Kurt Johnson 0 143

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Ron Krisher