Phoenix: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ Looks to Add another High Point to His Phoenix Resume ACDelco Cobalt pilot recalls his rough 1993 start at Firebird Raceway Sugar Hill, Ga., February 20, 2006 - Kurt Johnson and his ACDelco Cobalt Racing team head to Phoenix, AZ this...

KJ Looks to Add another High Point to His Phoenix Resume
ACDelco Cobalt pilot recalls his rough 1993 start at Firebird Raceway

Sugar Hill, Ga., February 20, 2006 - Kurt Johnson and his ACDelco Cobalt Racing team head to Phoenix, AZ this weekend for the Checkers Schuck's Kragen Nationals, the second stop on the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing schedule. This will be Johnson's fourteenth career appearance at Firebird International Raceway, where he has experienced both ends of the competitive spectrum.

For example, Johnson received a rather rough introduction to the Arizona quarter-mile during his rookie season in 1993. Making only his Pro Stock second start, the young driver squared off against former teammate Scott Geoffrion in the second round. Unaware of his opponent's red-light start, Johnson powered down track, recording the quickest and fastest pass of the round at 7.208 seconds, 192.67 mph. However, in attempt to slow down following the run, his brakes locked, sending him into a jarring crash which prevented him from answering the bell for the semi-finals.

"Scott was actually at fault, because if he hadn't red-lighted, I wouldn't have crashed," joked Johnson in recalling the incident. "I had difficulty seeing the tree that weekend, so I was unaware that Scott had red-lit, and I stared at his front fender in front of me all the way down the track. As a result, when I got to the finish line, I was less concerned about what I should have been doing, namely stopping, than I was about losing. When I finally tried to stop, I couldn't find the chute handle, so I hit the brakes.

"It was the third different car I had driven in three weeks, and the brakes were much more sensitive, so I barely touched them, they locked up, and the rest is history. It was a combination of a lack of experience and a lack of thinking that caused us to lose a car that could have won the race. Of course, that was a long time ago, and I've since learned that it's better to end the day with the winner's trophy than out in the desert with a wrecked race car."

Johnson's fortunes at Firebird Raceway have improved considerably since that original race, as he has scored two wins there, with the most recent coming in 2004. Naturally, this weekend he will look to continue this positive trend, and add to his list of successes in the Arizona desert.

"We're looking forward to getting to Phoenix, because we're pretty confident about having a good weekend with our ACDelco Cobalt," stated Johnson. "As with any track we race on, we have to make good runs and I have to do my job at the starting line. Firebird can be a little tricky, so whoever adapts to it the best will be successful. It can get slippery near the top with dirt and dust blowing in from the desert, so it will be important to stay in the groove.

"We're definitely hungry coming out of Pomona. We learned a lot about our car at that race, and the main thing is that we don't out-trick ourselves. We'll stick to the basics and concentrate on getting down the racetrack. We have the people and the parts to get to the top of this program -- it's just a matter of executing."

-j2r-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Scott Geoffrion