Memphis: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ Works to Dial In Winning Combination for Memphis; ACDelco Cobalt crew tests to gather tuning date for crucial stretch run Sugar Hill, Ga., September 25, 2008 -- In a sport measured in ten-thousandths of a second, Kurt Johnson and the...

KJ Works to Dial In Winning Combination for Memphis; ACDelco Cobalt crew tests to gather tuning date for crucial stretch run

Sugar Hill, Ga., September 25, 2008 -- In a sport measured in ten-thousandths of a second, Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt racing team know they cannot afford to stand still. Therefore, even though they have been consistently among the best in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock division over the last few races, and had less than five days to perform their normal between-race maintenance and travel to Memphis, TN for this weekend's O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals, the team remained in Texas for an additional day to test, looking to gain information that prove useful in these last four races.

"Our ACDelco Cobalt has been very good all year long, but we saw something in the second round in Dallas that I felt we needed to address," said Johnson. "It's been very fast with that set-up on the better racing surfaces, but I believe we still have to something to learn about its tuning window on the more challenging tracks.

"Therefore, if we can learn something in testing that will help us do that, we'll be in even better shape going into these last four races, so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity. Our focus is solidly on winning that championship, so we're going to keep swinging for it as hard as we can."

If the prospects of another tightly-packed Pro Stock field and competing on a third consecutive weekend were not daunting enough, competitors at Memphis Motorsports Park this weekend will also have to deal with their third different racing surface in as many weeks. After two events on all-concrete tracks, the straight-liners will return to the more conventional concrete and asphalt combination on the Volunteer State quarter-mile, although crews will have to compensate for the recent maintenance efforts that may have changed this venerable strip's tuning characteristics.

"You have to be ready for just about anything when you go to Memphis," said Johnson. "Depending on the temperature, it can be hot and extremely slick. It's also supposed to have been ground since last year, which should make it a lot better, but you don't really know what you have to deal with until you actually pull in the gates and look at it yourself. We did take a brand new ACDelco Cobalt there in 2006 and went out and won the race, and we've been to the final a couple other times, so we definitely know our way to the winner's circle.

"Still, every race in this Countdown is just like starting over. We had a great run in Charlotte, where we learned and ran better with every run, and we ran better every run during qualifying in Dallas, but were off a little in the first round. We made some changes for the next round to make it better, and it wasn't even close. We took that as a wake-up call, so we plan to take what we learn in testing to help us be at the very top of our game for this weekend in Tennessee."

By the Numbers -- O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals edition:

1 -- Career wins (in three final round appearances) entering this weekend by Kurt at Memphis Motorsports park, with the most recent coming in 2006.

2 -- No. 1 qualifying performances by KJ at the Covington quarter-mile entering this weekend, with the most recent coming in 2005.

5 -- Number of finishes in the semifinals or better by Kurt in his previous 13 starts in Memphis.

6.38 -- KJ's average starting position in his previous 13 MMP starts.

6.581 -- KJ's career best elapsed time (in seconds) recorded this past May in Madison, IL.

10 - Top half starts by Kurt in his previous 13 MMP starts.

14 -- Consecutive years in which Kurt has won at least one national event, the longest active streak in Pro Stock.

209.92 - KJ's career best top speed (in mph) recorded in Seattle, WA.

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson