Pomona: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ Ready to Shift from Park to Warp Drive in Pomona New Off-season Strategy has ACDelco Crew Aiming for Second Winternationals Win Sugar Hill, Ga., February 7, 2005 - This winter, Kurt Johnson did something with his ACDelco Cavalier that many...

KJ Ready to Shift from Park to Warp Drive in Pomona
New Off-season Strategy has ACDelco Crew Aiming for Second Winternationals Win

Sugar Hill, Ga., February 7, 2005 - This winter, Kurt Johnson did something with his ACDelco Cavalier that many auto enthusiasts do with their rides each year. After returning to the team's Sugar Hill headquarters following the final race of the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season, the crew brought the car inside and parked it. Over the next two and a half months, they went over it from head-to-tail, checking and replacing worn parts with new ones, getting it ready for the season ahead. Other than having the nose sent out for repainting, it never left the facility.

Although this is a normal procedure for someone trying to protect their prized sports car from the harsh winter elements, it is far from the usual routine for a race team, which typically allots several weeks during the off-season at racetracks in Florida for testing and fine-tuning.

However, when the ACDelco crew rolls to the line in Pomona for this Thursday for their first qualifying attempt at the season-opening Carquest Auto Parts Winternationals, it will mark only the second time since last November that they will have been to a race track. Despite this seemingly unconventional approach, K.J. is confident of his chances for a successful start to the season.

"Going into the off-season, we weren't really concerned about our ACDelco Cavalier," explained Johnson. "We had made some good runs with it in the latter part of the season, and since we're using the same car to start the year, it wasn't an issue.

"We knew we needed to roll up our sleeves and find some more horsepower. Therefore, we spent quite a bit of time in the dyno room, burning fuel and valve springs, and although we'll find out for sure when the scoreboard lights up in Pomona, I think we'll be in pretty good shape."

Coming off his ninth consecutive Top Five finish in the POWERade Pro Stock points standings, and riding a best-in-class ten year streak of at least one national event win per season, there are few who could question Johnson's strategy. Tipping the scales further in his favor is his strong record at Pomona Raceway, site of this weekend's event. With four wins in seven final round appearances, the second-generation racer seems poised to make another strong start in pursuit of the championship.

"With the new starting line, everyone will be in the same boat, scrambling to find the right combination to get a good launch," said Johnson. "Fortunately, between myself and my father (six-time champion Warren Johnson), we have extensive notes, and there is bound to be another track we have raced on in the past with similar conditions to those we'll encounter this weekend.

"It will be a challenge, but hopefully the combination of our database and team experience will give us an advantage in negotiating the new surface successfully. We're not cocky, but we are confident of making the right calls.

"Naturally, our primary goal heading in to the season is to win the championship. For that, we will have to win quite a few races. I think the category will be much more competitive this year than it was in 2004, because everyone in the pit area has gone to work and caught up. Fortunately, I think the long hours we put in over the winter are going to pay off, and our ACDelco Racing team is going to be right near the top."

Notes on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cavalier Racing team entering the Carquest Auto Parts Winternationals:

* KJ's Winternationals Past: This will be Kurt's 13th appearance at the Winternationals. In his 12 previous starts, he has one win in two final round appearances, with a 20-11 elimination round record for a .645 win percentage. In addition, he has an average starting position of 6.17 at the NHRA's traditional season-opener.

* Kurt Overall Pomona Raceway Record: In 24 previous appearances at Pomona Raceway, Kurt has four wins in seven final round appearances and a 42-19 elimination round record.

* One year ago: Kurt qualified second with an elapsed time of 6.749 seconds at 204.57 mph, and advanced to the second round.

* Most recent Winternationals win: 2001, when he qualified fifth and defeated Mark Osborne, Mike Edwards, Bruce Allen and Darrell Alderman to give the all-new Chevrolet Cavalier in its very first Pro Stock race.

-j2r-

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