Norwalk: Kurt Johnson preview

NORWALK, Ohio, June 24, 2009 -- The third annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals starting Friday at Summit Racing Motorsports Park will mark the halfway point of the 24-event 2009 Full Throttle Series campaign. It's also a unique,...

NORWALK, Ohio, June 24, 2009 -- The third annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals starting Friday at Summit Racing Motorsports Park will mark the halfway point of the 24-event 2009 Full Throttle Series campaign. It's also a unique, double-race weekend for eight drivers in the Pro Stock class who will have a golden opportunity to pocket an additional $50,000 by winning Saturday's K & N Horsepower Challenge, a race-within-a-race, featuring the eight drivers who have accumulated the most points in qualifying over the past year.

ACDelco's Kurt Johnson has won the special bonus event four times during his career, the most of any Pro Stock driver in the history of the sport, so he knows all about hitting that Horsepower Challenge jackpot.

"To have won it more than anyone else says a lot about this ACDelco team," Johnson said. "It's an exciting event for the fans as well as the eight elite racers who have earned their way into the field over the course of a year.

"It's a fun day, with no pressure as far as the championship points are concerned. With all that money on the line, you don't really wing it, but you definitely go up there hopped up. There's that $50,000 bone at the end of the day, and you're just a hungry dog going after it."

This will be Johnson's 16th consecutive appearance in the Horsepower Challenge -- the longest active streak among Pro Stock competitors and second all time to his dad, Warren Johnson's, 23 races. Kurt has raced in the Horsepower Challenge every year in which he's been eligible going back to 1994 with his victories coming in 1994, '98, 2003, and most recently in 2007. He is qualified No. 5 for this year's bonus race and will face No. 4 qualifier Jason Line in round one.

"That's a payoff you can get excited about," Johnson said. "When you wake up on Saturday morning and realize that someone's going to leave the track $50,000 richer than they were when they arrived, you can't wait to get the day started."

In addition to trying to bank that extra cash during Saturday's bonus feature, the ACDelco team will be multi-tasking and trying to secure a strong qualifying position for Sunday's Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.

"You have to keep your eye on the ball, as far as that's concerned," Johnson said. "That means running well and making a pair of good passes right out of the box on Friday so that we're not trying to fight our way into the field on Saturday."

Johnson comes into this weekend's NHRA Full Throttle contest seventh in the standings and with his ACDelco Chevrolet the best it's been all season. The ACDelco team is looking to build on the momentum it established during the last two races, and a win this weekend, either in Saturday's Horsepower Challenge or Sunday's Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, would be a nice morale lifter heading into the second half of the season.

"From a performance standpoint, we've made up a lot of ground over the past couple of races, and we're getting to the point now where we're running at the front of the pack," Johnson said. "Now we need to win a race. We have all the right equipment and all the right people to get that done. It's a matter of putting the right pegs in the right holes. Right now, there seems to be about six or seven of us in the middle of the pack chasing the two at the top. The good thing is that we can get on a run just like the leaders and make a move -- I'm certain of that."

The third annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on June 25 -- 28 at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, is the 12th race on the 24-event NHRA Full Throttle Series tour.

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Jason Line