Atlanta Kurt Johnson story (PRO STOCK)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 FATHERHOOD HELPS KURT JOHNSON INCREASE FOCUS IN PRO STOCK COMMERCE, Ga. -- Consistency has helped Kurt Johnson produce one of the strongest starts of his...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

FATHERHOOD HELPS KURT JOHNSON INCREASE FOCUS IN PRO STOCK

COMMERCE, Ga. -- Consistency has helped Kurt Johnson produce one of the strongest starts of his five-year NHRA Winston Pro Stock career.

So has the presence of a little guy in his Lawrenceville, Ga., home.

Johnson admits that his focus for this season has intensified since his wife, Kathy, gave birth to their first child, Conner, last November.

"You've got to put shoes on the baby," Johnson said. "You've got to go out there and win. You've got to be vicious when you race. Not that I wasn't vicious before. But you've got to look toward your future.

"You've got to look toward your next 20 years instead of your next 20 weeks, or whatever. I've got to get round wins under my belt."

He's done a good job so far. Johnson is a solid third in the NHRA Winston point standings entering the 17th annual, $1,462,250 Fram Nationals, April 10-13 at Atlanta Dragway. The race is the fifth event of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997.

More than 40 passes during preseason testing helped Johnson find gremlins that plagued his ACDelco Pontiac Firebird last season and made it one of the most unpredictable cars in the field. Johnson won, did not qualify, lost in the first round, finished runner-up and lost in the first round, respectively, in the last five races of 1996. He still finished fourth in the NHRA Winston standings.

Those problems appear to be gone. Johnson advanced to at least the semifinals at three of the first four races this season, with a runner-up finish at the Chief Auto Parts Winternationals.

"We had to figure that out," Johnson said. "We need to go from racetrack to racetrack and be at least a little bit close."

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson