Pomona: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ Ready to Author a Championship Title in Three Chapters ACDelco Cobalt crew kicks off 2007 season in Pomona Sugar Hill , Ga. - At this weekend's Carquest Auto Parts Winternationals, Kurt Johnson will kick off his 15th year as a full-time ...

KJ Ready to Author a Championship Title in Three Chapters
ACDelco Cobalt crew kicks off 2007 season in Pomona

Sugar Hill , Ga. - At this weekend's Carquest Auto Parts Winternationals, Kurt Johnson will kick off his 15th year as a full-time competitor in the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series. Since making his competitive debut with a semifinal finish at the 1993 Winternationals, the popular driver of the ACDelco Cobalt has accomplished almost everything one could in the sport, from being the 1993 Rookie of the Year and the first Pro Stock racer to record an elapsed time in the six-second range to Top Ten finishes in every year of competition and an unmatched streak of twelve consistent years with at least one national event win, including consecutive U.S. Nationals titles in 1996 & 1997.

However, as Johnson arrives in the Golden State this weekend for the NHRA's season-opener, one element remains missing from his racing resume POWERade Pro Stock championship. Having finished in the runner-up position four times in his career (in 1993, 2000, 2003 and 2005), KJ knows it will take a near-perfect effort to capture this elusive goal, and despite a few new added variables, remains resolute in ending the season in the top position.

"Our ACDelco Cobalt may look the same as it did last year, but we've made a few changes to it, trying to go quicker and faster," said Johnson. "The crew is also a little different with Nate Allbritain joining Justin Belfance and myself, as well as Terry (crew chief Adams) coming on board to help Dad's (six-time champion Warren) and my teams.

"So far, the changes are working out well and our attitude couldn't be better. We're expecting to go out and win our share of races. Certainly our ultimate goal is the POWERade championship, but we've got a long season ahead of us and, on top of everything else, a new championship format to contend with. It's going to be interesting, but we're determined to do it better than everyone else."

The revised format Johnson refers to is titled the "Countdown to the Championship," giving the fight for the POWERade Championship a completely new look in 2007. Under rules announced last fall, this year's title chase will be separated into three segments, with contenders whittled down to eight following the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and four following the Richmond race before coming to an end at the final race of the season in Pomona.

Although this radical redesign of the championship format has been the subject of great debate over the last few months, Johnson and his ACDelco crew have chosen to focus instead on preparing themselves and their race car for the nine-month, 23-race odyssey that lies ahead, ensuring every detail is addressed.

"Whether you like it or not, the Countdown to the Championship is here, and it's up to us to adapt to it as best as possible," stated Johnson. "Basically, it's three seasons wrapped into one, and our game plan is simple. In the first 17 races, we do whatever's necessary to be in the top eight. After that, we have four races to guarantee we're one of the top four. Finally, we'll have two races to win the championship.

"It all comes down to not letting anything slip by from the very start this weekend in Pomona. From the first qualifying session on Thursday, we have to attack, making the most of every opportunity, staying at or near the top. The trick is to be consistent, making sure you qualify well and get lane choice whenever possible. If we do that, we'll put ourselves in a position to come out on top, no matter what format is used. This season is a book with three chapters, and this ACDelco Cobalt crew is determined to give it a happy ending."

Personal Appearance:

Kurt & the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team will be greeting the fans and signing autographs at Mark Christopher Chevrolet, 2131 Convention Center Way, Ontario , CA from 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7.

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson