Madison: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ & Co. Get By With a Little Help from Their Friends Two Real Car Guys Provide Varied and Valuable Assistance to ACDelco Cobalt crew in defense of 2005 Madison win Sugar Hill, Ga., June 21, 2006 -- The NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series will...

KJ & Co. Get By With a Little Help from Their Friends

Two Real Car Guys Provide Varied and Valuable Assistance to ACDelco Cobalt crew in defense of 2005 Madison win

Sugar Hill, Ga., June 21, 2006 -- The NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series will bring three consecutive weeks of racing to a close with the running of this weekend's O'Reilly Midwest Nationals in Madison, IL. It has been a grueling stretch for the stars of the straight line, as they have traveled from the Midwest to the East Coast and back again, with little time for anything other than normal maintenance.

So far it has been a very productive trip for Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team, with a win in Chicago and a semi-final appearance in New Jersey three days ago. The close-knit crew's efforts have been aided along the way by the contributions of two long-time friends, Bob Barker and John Siewert. This versatile duo, who have full-time jobs in the automotive industry (Barker runs Barker's Body Art Collision & Color in Hebron, IN, while Siewert is a well-respected auto painting instructor) has done everything from intricate body and paintwork on both Kurt's and his father's (six-time champion Warren) race cars to providing the team with outstanding meals over the course of the weekend.

Affectionately nicknamed "Bob and Bubba" by the Johnsons, they will attend a handful of races throughout the year, including the St. Louis race, and their presence is naturally always welcomed. As Johnson looks ahead to this weekend's race, he hopes to reward them for their contributions by taking them to the winner's circle for the second time in three weeks.

"We first met Bob and John about five years ago through Darrick Nykaza, one of our crew guys at the time," said Johnson. "They started coming to the races, doing what they could, and for the last three or four years have been a tremendous help."

"Their specialty is paint and body work, which they have done for us numerous times, but we can rely on them to help out wherever we need. From cooking great meals for the crew to fixing the air conditioning on a motorhome we were using one year in Indy, they've done it all. ACDelco likes to pride itself on being the parts supplier for the Real Car Guys -- well, we have two of them helping us at the races this weekend. Over the years, they've been to a few winner's circles with us, and we'd like to take them back there this weekend with our ACDelco Cobalt."

If recent history is any indicator, Johnson's chances to repay his friends this weekend are excellent. With a win, a runner-up finish and a semi-final appearance in their last three races, they have steadily reinserted themselves into championship contention, climbing from 10th to fifth in the POWERade points standings. In addition, this weekend they return to Gateway International Raceway, where one year ago the Sugar Hill-based team had a dominating performance, starting with claiming the No. 1 qualifying position, and ending in the winner's circle in the first NHRA Pro Stock national event win by the sleek Chevy Cobalt.

However, Johnson knows that in order to duplicate that stirring showing, they will need to adapt to the unusual conditions presented by this weekend's format, where the on-track action will be split between the heat of the afternoon and the slightly cooler evening temperatures.

"We're feeling pretty good about this weekend," said Johnson. "Our ACDelco Cobalt is running well, going rounds, and the track in Madison is pretty similar to the one in Chicago, where we won two weeks ago. Looking at the forecast, the highs are supposed to be in the 80's, so it shouldn't be that bad, and, based on last year's win, we should have a good combination to get down the track."

"With the unusual times we'll be running, we'll have to have a tune-up to get down a hot track, as well as another for a slightly cooler track, which shows how big a factor the racetrack temperature can be. The air will still be the same, but with the surface temperature dropping 20-25 degrees, we'll still pick up four or five hundredths. We'll know by Sunday night how good of a job we've done, but this weekend we're looking to become this season's first three-time winner in Pro Stock."

-j2r

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson