THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta, May 4-6, 2001 NO PLACE LIKE HOME Kurt Johnson will experience the ultimate luxury for a touring racer: an event at a track with...
THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta, May 4-6, 2001
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Kurt Johnson will experience the ultimate luxury for a touring racer: an event at a track with a local area code. Atlanta Dragway, site of the upcoming Advance Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, is just a short haul up the interstate from Johnson's home in bucolic Buford, Ga. With a travel schedule that will take Kurt and his ACDelco team from Georgia to New Jersey, Kansas and Illinois in the next five weeks, the Southern Nationals will be Johnson's last weekend at home for a long while.
Johnson comes into his home race in second place in the Winston Pro Stock standings, just seven points behind his front-running father. He also brings an optimistic attitude that is the result of a promising performance at the preceding event in Bristol, Tenn.
"I should have won Bristol," Kurt declared. "That was a win that slipped away, and I'm still aggravated about it.
"The transmission popped out of third gear in the first round, and then it popped out of fourth gear when I lost in the second round," Johnson explained. "We've worked on the shifter all week to prevent a repeat performance."
With the Southern summer beginning to simmer, Johnson is confident that he has garnered enough data to prepare his ACDelco Cavalier for the warm weather ahead. "The car was on a perfect run in Bristol, the best I've made in a while on a hot race track," he noted. "We changed the suspension and it responded. I think we have something we can show the boys this weekend."
Johnson has tested tirelessly at Atlanta Dragway since the start of the season, but he anticipates very different track conditions this weekend. "We expect the track to be much hotter than it was in February and March, and that will make it tricky," he predicted. "The concrete starting pad is almost a little too smooth and the tires want to spin in the middle of the run. We'll have to make adjustments for that."
The arrival of a new engine dynamometer at the Johnson family's top secret headquarters in Sugar Hill, Ga., heralds a change in Johnson's between-races routine. "We really haven't devoted much time to our engine program because we had to concentrate on the new cars and chassis," he confided. "I ran big speeds at the beginning of the year, but the mph has tapered off in the last few races. I think I've found the problem, and I expect to be fast this weekend."
Some problems are simple to solve. Glare off the dashboard obscured Kurt's view of the Christmas Tree in Bristol, resulting in a sub-par .470-second reaction time in the second round. "I was flying blind and couldn't see the lights," Kurt offered. "Some flat black paint will fix that."
And how will Johnson maintain his motivation through the forced march to come? "That's easy," he said. "I've got kids to feed, so motivation is not a problem. The crew is doing a great job, and that helps to keep morale up."
A victory celebration at Atlanta Dragway with friends and family would also sustain the ACDelco team's spirits through the long weeks on the road. <pre> KURT JOHNSON'S ATLANTA DRAGWAY RECORD
Year Qual. Result 1993 3 Runner-up (to W. Johnson) 1994 6 Semi Final 1995 9 Second Round 1996 9 Winner (over Yates) 1997 4 Runner-up (to Yates) 1998 4 Second Round 1999 14 First Round 2000 2 Second Round