Kurt Johnson Scores a Big Win in Memphis Memphis, TN, August 21, 2006 -- The third time was the charm for ACDelco Cobalt driver Kurt Johnson, as he took home the Pro Stock title in today's rain-delayed O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals...
Kurt Johnson Scores a Big Win in Memphis
Memphis, TN, August 21, 2006 -- The third time was the charm for ACDelco Cobalt driver Kurt Johnson, as he took home the Pro Stock title in today's rain-delayed O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals in Memphis, Tennessee. It was the 35th win of Johnson's career, third of the 2006 season, and first at Memphis Motorsports Park after two prior runner-up finishes.
"We finally won one in Memphis," declared a happy Johnson afterwards. "You never want to think you're jinxed at a particular track, but after two runner-up finishes, we were starting to wonder if that win light would ever come on here four times on Sunday. Fortunately, our ACDelco Cobalt ran extremely well, I did a good job of driving when I needed to, and it all worked out in our favor. Who knows, maybe the key was that we finished this race on Monday."
After qualifying fourth, Johnson opened in impressive fashion on Sunday, using the best reaction time of the round at .017 and the second quickest pass at 6.781 seconds to eliminate Richie Stevens. Although heavy rains postponed the remainder of the race until the following morning, the second-generation racer showed no ill effects from the delay, combining reaction times in the .03 range with two quick runs to trailer Larry Morgan and Allen Johnson and advance to the 65th final round of his illustrious career.
Squaring off against current points leader Jason Line in the championship round, Johnson knew that to leave with the winner's trophy, he knew that both he and his distinctive red, white and blue ride would need to produce an error-free performance. >From the moment the starting lights turned green, he left nothing to chance, using his best reaction time of the weekend at .013 to gain the advantage by three hundredths of a second and never looked back, using a 6.718-second, 204.42 mph pass to score the holeshot win over Line, who posted a quicker 6.703-second clocking in the losing effort.
Making Johnson's accomplishment even more impressive was the fact that this was only his second start with this particular chassis. Having made its competitive debut in Brainerd a week ago, the final round at Memphis Motorsports Park marked only its 13th full pass down the quarter-mile.
"We made some changes going into the semi-finals and our ACDelco Cobalt really improved, which was a key to our win," stated Johnson. "It picked us up by a hundredth, which is huge in these cars, about the same as 10 horsepower on the dyno. Although it was also important that we maintain lane choice, because that right lane can be so brutal, we made two pretty decent runs over there in qualifying, so I wasn't as worried about getting put in that lane as I was in the past. Still, it was nice to keep it for all four rounds. This new car is looking like it's something pretty decent, one that we might keep around for a while.
"Of course, I ran Jason (Line) in the final, and after going red against him in Brainerd, I certainly didn't want to do it again, but I couldn't back off. We tuned the car for what we had, I tried to react as well as I could, I went .013 on the tree, and things turned out well. I put it in second gear a little early, but overall it was a decent run with only a few thousandths or a hundredth left in it.
"The important part is that it was good enough to win, and that's all that matters. It's also good for everyone on both Dad's (six-time champion Warren Johnson) and my teams, a nice morale booster heading into the last part of the season. Now we have to take those positive vibes we generated here and take them to Indy, which just happens to be another race we run on Monday."