Richmond: Kurt Johnson preview

RICHMOND, Va., Oct. 7, 2009 -- The recent four-race NHRA Fall Swing that kicked off the 2009 Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship concludes this weekend at the Fourth annual Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. Given the...

RICHMOND, Va., Oct. 7, 2009 -- The recent four-race NHRA Fall Swing that kicked off the 2009 Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship concludes this weekend at the Fourth annual Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. Given the time of year, the Pro Stock performance history at VMP, and the venue's propensity to yield record-breaking times and speeds, ACDelco's Kurt Johnson knows this upcoming contest promises excitement for both competitors and fans alike.

"You'll definitely need to bring your 'A' game and be ready to go fast," Johnson said. "The last couple of years have been really quick there, and it's not unusual to see drivers running their career-best numbers."

For the last three weekends, first at Charlotte, then Dallas, and most recently at Memphis, Johnson has battled to put his Chevy Cobalt into the winner's circle. The veteran Pro Stock competitor feels he's getting closer with each run down the race track.

"At Memphis we were five hundredths slower to the eighth-mile but we ran decent on the back half," explained the winner of 39 career national events. "We're running good speed on the top end but struggling to get to the eighth-mile. We can do it on occasion, but not consistently and that's what we need to address. You have to fix what's broken, and right now that's our biggest issue.

"Our focus is to keep building on what we've learned over the last few weeks, put this ACDelco Chevrolet at the top of the page and win a race. We've got the tools to work on the race car whether it's the welders, or the grinders, the cutters, whatever needs to be done, then that's what we're going to address."

Johnson has made nine trips to Virginia Motorsports Park as a Pro Stock competitor. He was runner-up to Warren Johnson in 1997, and No. 1 qualifier in 1999 when he set what was then a national elapsed-time record of 6.840 seconds. At last year's NHRA Virginia Nationals he ran a career-best time of 6.559 seconds at 210.11 mph, which was also a career-best top speed until he eclipsed that mark earlier this season at Houston.

"Virginia Motorsports Park has been a good place for us to race over the years," Johnson said. "Dad's won four times and broke the 200-mph barrier there, and then we were fortunate to set the national record with our ACDelco Chevrolet just a few years back. It's a good track that will take just about everything you can throw at it, and that's usually quite a bit. They also have great fans who have a tremendous appreciation for the Pro Stock class."

The Fourth annual NHRA Virginia Nationals on Oct. 9 -- 11 at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Va., is the 22nd race on the 24-event NHRA Full Throttle Series tour. Qualifying coverage of the Virginia Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, Oct. 10, beginning at 10:30 p.m. Final eliminations coverage gets underway on Sunday, Oct. 11, with NHRA Race Day starting at 11 a.m., and a three-hour telecast of final eliminations kicks off at 7 p.m. Eastern.

"The season's winding down and we won't be satisfied until we can take home that winner's trophy," Johnson said. "Hopefully this will be our weekend."

-credit: jjr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson