Sugar Hill, Ga., November 3, 2003 - By all accounts, ACDelco Cavalier pilot Kurt Johnson has had an outstanding 2003 season. For example, his 46 elimination round wins are not only a personal single season best, but with one race remaining, equal...
Sugar Hill, Ga., November 3, 2003 - By all accounts, ACDelco Cavalier pilot Kurt Johnson has had an outstanding 2003 season. For example, his 46 elimination round wins are not only a personal single season best, but with one race remaining, equal the total number posted by last year's Pro Stock champion, Jeg Coughlin. In addition, the 1,660 points Johnson has scored through the first 22 races of this year's NHRA POWERade championship chase exceed by seventeen those tallied by Coughlin over an entire season in 2002. Punctuating this stellar effort are his four national event wins, which tie him with his father, Warren Johnson, for the second most in the highly competitive Pro Stock division.
Although this performance would certainly have earned Johnson the championship in almost any other season, former Warren Johnson Enterprises employee and current rival Greg Anderson's record-breaking run finds Johnson solidly in second place. However, rather than lamenting the unfortunate timing, Johnson prefers to focus on the positive aspects of his strong showing.
"There was one guy who kept getting in my way," said Johnson. "Obviously, Greg's team stumbled on to something and ran well all year. We gave him a run for the money, and kept it close for most of the season, but in the end we just didn't have enough points to win the championship. Having worked here, Greg is well aware of how we operate, so he should know that we will be coming after him next year, and you know what they say about paybacks."
"But it has been a great year for the ACDelco team. Even though we didn't get as much research and development time as we'd like because of all the rainouts, the engine shop still did its job, giving us plenty of horsepower. All season long, Kevin Horst and Joe Cottle worked hard to make sure our Cavalier was ready to go. We're coming into Pomona with four wins in nine final rounds, and are looking to make it five in ten to wrap up 2003 on a high note."
Even though this year's championship has been decided, there is still plenty of motivation for Johnson and his ACDelco crew entering this weekend's Auto Club of Southern California Finals in Pomona, CA. For example, their primary goal remains the same as it was when the NHRA season began at this racetrack nine months ago - to win every race entered. It is an assignment that the second-generation driver has completed quite successfully at Pomona Raceway, with four wins, more than he has earned at any other on the circuit. In fact, he enters this race as the defending event champion, having scored a dramatic victory one year ago to preserve his streak of winning at least one race a year, an accomplishment that dates back to his rookie campaign in 1993.
"Pomona has always been a great racetrack for me," stated Johnson. "I won this event a year ago, and even though the starting line was completely changed by the work they did to it prior to this year's Winternationals, I believe we have a pretty good combination for the racing surface. We're coming off a runner-up finish in Las Vegas, where I felt we didn't run as well as we should have, so we should be in good shape this weekend. We're ready to put an exclamation point on a good 2003 season, and start getting ready for an even stronger 2004."
Facts on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Racing Team entering the Auto Club of Southern California Finals:
KJ in Southern California:
This will be Kurt's 22nd appearance at Pomona Raceway, where he has four wins (more than any other track during his career) in six final round appearances. Three of those four wins came at the Finals, including last year's event.
One year ago:
Kurt qualified second with a time of 6.806 seconds and a top speed of 203.28 mph, and defeated Mark Whisnant, Tom Lee, Greg Anderson and Gene Wilson to score the 23rd national event win of his career.
KJ's Stellar Season Continues:
Kurt has several personal single-season marks in 2003. His nine final round appearances eclipse his previous best of seven, set in 1993 & 1997. He has also set a new single season mark for elimination round wins, which currently sits at 46, breaking his previous record of 41 set in 2000.
Kurt's .642 elimination round winning percentage (343-191) ranks 11th among all active NHRA professional drivers.