KJ Looks to Keep the Ball in His Court in Topeka ACDelco Cobalt crew looks for solid outing at Heartland Park Topeka Sugar Hill, Ga., May 24, 2006 -- Throughout the course of a POWERade Drag Racing Series event, competitors must deal with a...
KJ Looks to Keep the Ball in His Court in Topeka
ACDelco Cobalt crew looks for solid outing at Heartland Park Topeka
Sugar Hill, Ga., May 24, 2006 -- Throughout the course of a POWERade Drag Racing Series event, competitors must deal with a series of variables. On every pass, they must find the proper tune-up to maximize their performance, taking into account the atmospheric conditions and how they affect the race car, as well as the amount of traction available in the particular lane on the specific race track on which they are competing. In addition, the driver must perform his job to the best of his abilities, from posting a strong reaction time to ensuring the car stays in the racing groove. In a sport measured in tens of thousandths of a second, each decision can be critical.
However, as Pro Stock standout Kurt Johnson is quick to point out, there also are many vital aspects over which teams have no control, from the weather to track-related items under the jurisdiction of the sanctioning body. With disparate racing lanes and timing systems issues playing a pivotal role in deciding the outcome of the last two races, Johnson and his ACDelco Cobalt Racing team enter this weekend's O'Reilly Summer Nationals in Topeka, KS determined to minimize their vulnerability to such outside influences.
"One of our goals heading into Topeka is to make sure something out of our control doesn't help decide our fate," said Johnson. "Admittedly, we had our own issues fighting a clutch problem in Columbus, and it put us in a bad position. We had enough clutch in it to pull the tower down on Friday, and it was still slipping. Even so, we kept working at it and made a decent run in the last session on Saturday, the second quickest in the right lane. However, with the left lane being three hundredths quicker in a category as close as Pro Stock, we came up five thousandths short.
"We realize we're going to have problems getting down the track from time to time, but when you do make a good run, you expect the lanes to be equal. We try to make our ACDelco Cobalt ultra-consistent so we can see performance advantages and disadvantages, but having as big a difference between the lanes as we have seen on occasion this year makes it very hard to race.
"Even so, we're not going to complain or worry about things we can't fix. We're going to concentrate on getting our race car in perfect shape, and go on to the next race and attack it. We plan to do a little testing and will go over our notes for Heartland Park before we get there so that we are ready for whatever comes at us."
With one third of the season completed, every event becomes critical for those looking to gain ground on the leaders. Therefore, the Johnson-led crew sees this weekend's race at Heartland Park Topeka as the next opportunity to solidify their position as a contender for the 2006 POWERade title.
"Looking at the forecast for this weekend, it's supposed to be in the 90's, making it the warmest conditions we've raced in this year," said Johnson. "Fortunately, we have plenty of tuning data on our ACDelco Cobalt for those types of conditions, so we'll just plug in our hot weather combination and get after it from there.
"We can't deny that last weekend's results hurt us. However, we know we're as good as anyone out there and there's no reason we shouldn't be in the winner's circle. My goal is to reach the middle of the season in the Top Five, and that is still within our reach. It will certainly not be easy, but we need to win a couple races in the next few weeks to get ourselves back in the swing. Of course, everyone else in Pro Stock is thinking the same thing, but we know we can do it. It's time to get to work."
Quick Notes on Kurt Johnson & the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team entering
The 18th Annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals:
KJ is Targeting Topeka: This will be KJ's 19th career appearance at Heartland Park Topeka, where he has two final round appearances in 2003 & 2004, and a 19-16 elimination round record for a .543 win percentage. It is one of only five tracks on the 2006 POWERade Drag Racing Schedule where he has yet to win.
KJ's Qualifying Stats in Kansas: In his 16 previous career starts in Topeka, Kurt has one No. 1 qualifying performance (in 1995), 14 starts in the top half of the field, and an average starting position of 5.31.
One year ago: Kurt qualified third with an elapsed time of 6.740 seconds and a top speed of 205.10 mph, but was upset in the first round.
Topeka track record holder: KJ's 205.10 mph top speed set in qualifying one year ago is the current Pro Stock track top speed record at Heartland Park Topeka.