Madison: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ Works to Make Madison Race the Gateway to His First 2005 Win Last-minute test has ACDelco Cobalt crew primed for Sears Craftsman Nationals Sugar Hill, Ga., June 22, 2005 -- By all accounts, Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Racing team have had...

KJ Works to Make Madison Race the Gateway to His First 2005 Win
Last-minute test has ACDelco Cobalt crew primed for Sears Craftsman Nationals

Sugar Hill, Ga., June 22, 2005 -- By all accounts, Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Racing team have had a solid start to the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season. In the first ten races, they have posted one No. 1 qualifying performance (in Englishtown, NJ one week ago) with six starts in the Top 3 and a 5.27 average starting position. In addition, they have been equally effective on race day, with one final round appearance (in last month's Columbus race) and four semifinal finishes, accomplishments that further enhanced by the fact that the team switched to the completely new Cobalt after the first five races. This showing has landed Johnson solidly in the fifth position in the championship standings.

Although many in the highly competitive Pro Stock category would be more than pleased with this performance, Johnson's standards are set higher than most. Therefore, he added a last-minute test prior to this weekend's Sears Craftsman Nationals, and arrives in Madison, IL determined to put it all together and score his first win of the year.

"Overall, we've done a pretty good job this season, but in order to win we need to get better on Sunday, because that is when it counts," said Johnson. "Take last week for example. Our ACDelco Cobalt was fantastic in qualifying, and we felt like we had found the car's sweet spot. Unfortunately, it threw us a bit of a curve during eliminations, spinning the tires, which wasn't good.

"We know we have the power to win, as shown by our qualifying performances during the season. So if power isn't the issue, we know we need to get a better handle on our race car. That's why we decided to test before heading to St. Louis. We needed to be at a racetrack, so that's where we went."

An added benefit from the Johnson team's impromptu test session is the extra tuning data they will gather on their still-new race car. With blistering temperatures forecast for this weekend, teams will encounter conditions unlike any other they have faced in the first eleven races, even with most of the on-track activity taking place in the late afternoon and early evening. Therefore, any passes made under similar conditions prior to their arrival at Gateway International Raceway will serve to give them a direction for their baseline set-up at this weekend's race.

"It was 90 degrees when we tested, which should be close to what we see this weekend," said Johnson. "We're expecting the track to be extremely slick, so we didn't even spray the racetrack in Atlanta, keeping it as close to what we'll race on. In that fashion, we thought we would get a pretty good idea of where we needed to go with the tune-up.

"If anything, this ACDelco Cobalt team is even more determined than it was before. We had to pick up our performance to the sixty foot mark, as well as to the 330, and from what we saw in testing, I'm confident we've come close to accomplishing that goal. However, we still need to translate that into four round wins on Sunday. Looking ahead to this weekend, I like our chances."

Notes on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team entering the Sears Craftsman Nationals:

* KJ in Madison: This will be Kurt's ninth appearance at Gateway International Raceway, where he has one win in 1998 and one No. 1 qualifying performance in 1999.

* One year ago: Kurt qualified thirteenth with an elapsed time of 6.766 seconds and a top speed of 204.42 mph, but fell in the first round.

* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.671 sec., Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05

* Career best top speed: 207.13 mph, Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05

-j2r-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson