Baytown: Kurt Johnson preview

Sent to his Corner, KJ Looks for A Powerful Return in Houston ACDelco Racing team ready to successfully defend O'Reilly Spring Nationals title Sugar Hill, Ga., April 12, 2004 - There are two rather inconspicuous rooms in the back corner of the...

Sent to his Corner, KJ Looks for A Powerful Return in Houston
ACDelco Racing team ready to successfully defend O'Reilly Spring Nationals title

Sugar Hill, Ga., April 12, 2004 - There are two rather inconspicuous rooms in the back corner of the Warren Johnson Enterprises shop in Sugar Hill, GA. One has long counters and walls full of cabinets, while the other, smaller area has a frame in the middle surrounded by various hoses and pipes. Although to the casual observer there is nothing special about this space, it could hold the key to Kurt Johnson's chances for the 2004 NHRA POWERade championship, for it is here in the engine department that the legendary Johnson horsepower is developed.

In addition to his responsibilities as the driver and tuner of the ACDelco Cavalier, Johnson is the main engine builder for both his and his father's race cars. When not at the track competing or testing, he will spend long hours alternating between the two rooms, first building the 500 cubic inch powerplants and then testing them on the dynamometer. It is this never-ending search for horsepower that has monopolized the second-generation racer's time as he prepares for this weekend's O'Reilly Spring Nationals in Houston, TX.

"Although we're pretty pleased with our ACDelco Cavalier's performance, the biggest thing the last two races have shown us that we need more power" said Johnson. "Therefore, I've spent quite a bit of time back in my corner of the shop, burning fuel on the dyno, doing whatever I can to squeeze some more out of our engines.

"But our focus isn't any different than if we were the ones in the points lead. We're here to win races, and as close as the competition is in Pro Stock, that means long hours and hard work. We don't worry about what other people are doing, we just work on doing the best we can with what we have."

Johnson enters this event as the defending champion, having recorded the fastest top speed in Pro Stock history to that point at 205.57 mph in qualifying and powering through a veteran field to score his second career win at Houston Raceway Park. Naturally, it is an accomplishment that he would like to duplicate this year.

"We had a great day in Houston last year," recalled Johnson. "We rolled the dice, completely changing the suspension before eliminations and then made it to the finish line first four times.

"To be honest, I like our chances this year. We've worked on our engines, getting them back up to full power after Las Vegas, and we seem to have gotten a pretty good handle on what this Cavalier needs to run. With the changes we've made, I think we'll be right back in the hunt this weekend.

"The weather is going to be a big factor, as well as the new racing surface. It could be anything from extremely hot to very cold this weekend, all of which produce great changes in the racetrack. As long as we avoid rain and tornados, we'll just have to adapt to what Mother Nature throws at us, finding the right set-up to get down the racetrack. We did a great job of doing that one year ago, and I'm confident this ACDelco crew has what it takes to do it again."

KJ's Comments

On how his ACDelco Cavalier has changed since the start of the season:

"Our ACDelco Cavalier is definitely more tunable than it was at the beginning of the year. We can now make adjustments to what the track is doing, smoothing it out much as we did during eliminations in Las Vegas. We have a good baseline to work from, and can now focus on fine-tuning. It's certainly a car we race with."

On the keys to success this weekend:

"The competition is so close that we have to make better all around runs. In Las Vegas, we had an engine with a lot of runs on it, which ran fair in qualifying, but seemed to be down a little on Sunday. We were also spinning the tires in third and fourth gear, which didn't help.

"This weekend, we've freshened the engines and have a couple different ways of tying the suspension down to get it to hook up to the race track. Finally, the driver has to do his job, much like I did in Vegas. It takes the complete package to win."

-j2r-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson