Memphis: GM Racing final summary

Johnson Puts ACDelco Chevy in Winner's Circle at Rain-Delayed Memphis Race Pedregon Reaches Fifth Funny Car Final of Season in his Chevy Monte Carlo Click here to download high resolution image MILLINGTON, Tenn., August 21, 2006 - It's been an...

Johnson Puts ACDelco Chevy in Winner's Circle at Rain-Delayed Memphis Race

Pedregon Reaches Fifth Funny Car Final of Season in his Chevy Monte Carlo Click here to download high resolution image

MILLINGTON, Tenn., August 21, 2006 - It's been an up-and-down season so far for Chevy Pro Stock driver Kurt Johnson, but he's leaving Memphis on top of the heap. Johnson drove his ACDelco Chevy Cobalt past points leader Jason Line to victory today at the rain-delayed O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park for his third win of the season and 35th of his career. Yesterday's rain showers postponed all but the first round of eliminations to today.

The 43-year-old Johnson proved to be a Dodge-killer this weekend as he defeated Richie Stevens Jr. in Round 1, Larry Morgan in Round 2 and Allen Johnson in the semifinals, all in a Dodge. In the final he faced points leader Jason Line in the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO for only the second time in a final round. Line defeated Johnson at Englishtown in 2004, but today KJ got to return the favor with a holeshot win. Johnson had a .013-second reaction time to get the jump on Line who had a .043, and then posted an elapsed time of 6.718 seconds at 204.42 mph to beat Line's quicker but losing e.t. of 6.703 seconds at a track-record speed of 205.38 mph. This was Johnson's first win at Memphis Motorsports Park, and the Minnesota native has now won on every track but four on the 23-race NHRA POWERade circuit.

"Things kind of fell together today and the car was running good," said Johnson. "You just have to have a good light at the right time. You've got to be first off of the starting line, and that's what made the difference today. Sometimes you are and sometimes you aren't, so we're pleased. Everything's coming together."

Johnson's third win of the season (Memphis, Chicago, Las Vegas) moves him around Jim Yates into fourth place in the Pro Stock points standings.

"That's three wins [this season] so we're pretty pleased," said Johnson, "especially to come to Memphis and win at a place where we had never won. This is a new car. We went to Brainerd with a new car and then came here and fine-tuned it. Everybody asked me if we're testing in Indy and I said, 'No, we tested Saturday in Memphis.'

Line defeated Tommy Lee in Round 1, V. Gaines in Round 2 and fellow Pontiac driver Mike Edwards in the semifinals to reach his third consecutive final round and sixth of the year. Despite his third runner-up finish of the season, the 2004 Rookie of the Year was able to increase his lead over teammate Greg Anderson to 121 points.

"It would've been nice to win," said Line. "The car made a nice run, but I just didn't quite have enough on the starting line. But Kurt did a great job and he deserved the win. All in all it was a good weekend for us. Obviously Greg and myself put some distance between us and (third place) Dave Connolly, so no real negatives other than not quite sealing the deal. The car was great and the guys are doing a fantastic job, and this should give us some momentum going to Indy."

Despite a second-round loss to Allen Johnson, Anderson actually put some distance between him and third place Dave Connolly after Connolly's first-round loss. Anderson leads Connolly by 50 points as he chases Line for his fourth consecutive POWERade championship in Pro Stock.

"The transmission just jumped out of third gear," said Anderson. "It's just one of those things that happens once every hundred runs or so and it happened at the wrong time. You just have to hope it doesn't happen on race day, and it did. There's nothing you can do about it, it's just part of the game. We definitely did good [as a team], and Jason had another good day and just about got him another win. We're performing well and I'm even driving better, so we're ready to win. Now we've just got to get rid of the gremlins. We'll go to Indy for the next couple of days and test, and get familiar with that track again. Indy's been a great place for me. It's been a very lucky place where a lot of good things have happened. I can't wait to get there because I need some good luck and I need some good fortune. We're right there, we're knocking on that door. The car's great, so hopefully maybe at Indy we put it all together and have good luck to go along with it."

In Funny Car, Tony Pedregon advanced to the final round in his Q Racing Chevy Monte Carlo and faced off against his old boss, 13-time Funny Car champ John Force, for the second time this season. Pedregon beat Force at St. Louis in June to go along with his back-to-back wins at Atlanta and Columbus in May. The 2003 NHRA POWERade Funny Car champ defeated fellow Chevy driver Tony Bartone in Round 1, Ron Capps in Round 2 and No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight in the semifinals to reach his fifth final of the season.

In the final, Force won with an elapsed time of 4.786 seconds at 318.24 mph to better Pedregon's 5.048 e.t. at 238.72. Force's second win of the season gives him a 17-point lead over Capps and Pedregon leaves Memphis third in points.

In the Sportsman classes, it was an all-Camaro final in Stock Eliminator as Jimmy Hidalgo from Donaldsonville, La., drove his '97 Camaro past Edmond Richardson from Greenbrier, Tenn., in his '02 Camaro. David Tatum III from Palmetto, Ga., also won Super Gas in his '04 Cavalier.

The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade circuit is over Labor Day weekend for the 57th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis on Aug. 30-Sept. 4.

-credit: gm racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Richie Stevens Jr. , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Ron Capps , John Force , Greg Anderson , Larry Morgan , Tommy Lee , Allen Johnson , Jason Line , Robert Hight , Dave Connolly , Mike Edwards