Las Vegas: Kurt Johnson preview

Recent Runner-Up Finish Has KJ Liking His Odds in Las Vegas Hot Weather Performance a key to ACDelco Cobalt's Success Sugar Hill, Ga., April 8, 2008 -- This weekend, Kurt Johnson will be one of countless people heading west with the intent of...

Recent Runner-Up Finish Has KJ Liking His Odds in Las Vegas
Hot Weather Performance a key to ACDelco Cobalt's Success

Sugar Hill, Ga., April 8, 2008 -- This weekend, Kurt Johnson will be one of countless people heading west with the intent of winning big in Las Vegas. However, even though he may try his hand throughout the weekend at one of the gaming tables in the casinos, his primary target will be the quarter-mile of concrete and asphalt at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as he and his ACDelco Cobalt racing team look to take home the trophy from this weekend's SummitRacing.com Nationals. After all, having learned a valuable lesson during his runner-up performance at the last race, KJ is confident of being able to improve his odds.

"It certainly didn't seem like it at the time, but what happened to us during the final in Houston was actually good for us," said Johnson. "It showed us something we had to fix in our ACDelco Cobalt. In the last two races, we had blamed the car's bad behavior on the track, which was certainly a factor, but when we overlaid the graph from that run with our first-round race in Gainesville (where KJ also shot to the right at the launch), they were virtually identical.

"Basically, this car runs fine when the track is cool, but when the track temp gets over 100, it can act up. With the forecast calling for it to be hot this weekend, we will definitely have to be on top of our game. But we've had this issue before, so we know what to do. We'll make the necessary changes and be ready to deal ourselves a winning hand."

Johnson's confidence entering the fifth stop on the POWERade Drag Racing schedule receives an added boost from his record in the Nevada desert, where he has won twice in five final round appearances. Armed with a fast race car and a virtual encyclopedia of Las Vegas tuning data, he enters the weekend determined to continue his string of strong 2008 performances.

"The Strip has been a pretty good track for the ACDelco Cobalt crew, with two wins and several final rounds" said Johnson. "But this will be our first race in Vegas with this new chassis, and although we tested there before the season, the temperature never got higher than 53 degrees, so conditions will be completely different this weekend. Basically, we'll have to stay ahead of the track, especially on Sunday, when the conditions change as we run behind the Fuel cars.

"Still, it's always great when we race in Las Vegas -- after all, it's the entertainment capital of the world and the facility is top notch. The left lane is decent, with the right side historically about a hundredth slower because of some issues at the starting line that I hope they've addressed. If they can just get the texture the same in both lanes it would be awesome.

"Even so, we've got a solid book on the place, so we have a pretty good idea on what tune-up to use on Friday. Basically, I'm in the process of setting this car like the one we ran in 2005 and 2006, so I think we'll see some good results. We're off to a good start this year, but until that win light comes on in my lane in the final round on Sunday night, I'm not going to be completely happy. Hopefully we can get that handled this weekend."

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson