Kurt Johnson Captures Third Win Of 2005 ACDelco Chevy Cobalt Driver Closes The Gap On The Frontrunners BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 14, 2005 - Kurt Johnson keeps closing the gap on the POWERade Pro Stock points leaders. The ACDelco Chevy Cobalt ...
Kurt Johnson Captures Third Win Of 2005
ACDelco Chevy Cobalt Driver Closes The Gap On The Frontrunners
BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 14, 2005 - Kurt Johnson keeps closing the gap on the POWERade Pro Stock points leaders. The ACDelco Chevy Cobalt driver captured his third victory of the season today at the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway by defeating Greg Stanfield in an all Chevrolet championship round. It was Johnson's 31st career victory and his third career win at BIR. It also moved the Minnesota native to within 55 points of first-place Greg Anderson and to within six points of second-place Warren Johnson.
"We battled all weekend but we expected that when we came here," said Johnson. "We hadn't made any changes on the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt since Sonoma (Calif.) and that was because it ran so good there. We freshened the motor and it was fine. But I don't know what it was because we were off by a mile-an-hour. We went from being qualified eighth, backed up to 10, and finished up third on Saturday, but we never gave up. We changed a motor this morning and even though it had never been in my car, we knew that it would perform well. It was the tune-up, getting everything right and a great effort by my guys, Joe (Cottle) and Kevin (Horst), that got us the win."
Johnson came into today's eliminator with his ACDelco Chevy Cobalt qualified in the No. 3 position. He defeated Ken Koretsky in round one running 6.756 seconds at 204.66 mph, Dave Howard in round two with a 6.784 e.t. at 203.77 mph and Greg Anderson in the semifinals posting a 6.740 e.t. at 204.98 mph. In the title heat against Stanfield, Johnson's Chevy Cobalt crossed the finish line with a winning 6.726 second run at 204.57 mph. Stanfield's Chevrolet followed with a 6.778 e.t. at 203.71 mph. The margin of victory for the 42-year-old Johnson was .043 of a second.
"Any time you race Stanfield you have to be ready," said Johnson. "We always have a good race. He's good on the tree and due for a win - that team is that good. They have an excellent program and Greg's on top of his game right now."
This weekend at Brainerd International Raceway saw Johnson continue his performance rampage through the western states. The ACDelco Chevy Cobalt driver advanced to his 59th career final round and his fourth in the last five races. Since the NHRA tour's visit to St. Louis at the end of June, Kurt Johnson has captured 17 round wins and lost only twice. Greg Anderson has won 10 rounds and lost four, while Warren Johnson has won seven rounds and lost four.
"You get scared of that first round because you never know what can happen - and if you can get to the final, it's been a great day," said Johnson. "You're only going to give up 20 points there if you lose. You have to be on your game all the time though, but in Pro Stock it's been like that for the last 15 years. Everything is so detailed and performance is determined by such infinitesimal margins that even a cloud over the racetrack like we had in qualifying yesterday can affect whether you run a 6.721 second lap or a 6.725 e.t. Something simple like that can determine winning, losing or whether you qualify fifth or third. It's that close."
"This morning I knew we didn't have the fastest car but I felt confident that we had a car we could win with. That's what it's all about. We probably got some breaks today, but you make your own luck, and you have to be there to take advantage of those situations.
"We picked up some more points, and we know we've been on a roll here lately. We're not hot, we're just there and that's what counts. Hopefully we can continue but we're not going to worry about the next seven races until they happen. We're just going to take it one day at a time and keep going."
In addition to Johnson and Stanfield, Warren Johnson and Greg Anderson filled the final four slots in the semifinal round with GM-branded cars. The elder Johnson, who qualified his GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO in the No. 1 spot, and set both ends BIR track record with a 6.698 e.t. at 206.57 mph, lost in round three to Greg Stanfield. Points leader Greg Anderson qualified his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO in the No. 2 position and lost to Kurt Johnson.
"Like I said last week, we're probably going to swap the lead three or four more times before it's all over with," said Anderson. "We might as well wipe the slate clean and go for it all at Pomona - the five of us. This Summit Racing Pontiac GTO was a great, great car all weekend. It made flawless runs and was getting better and better with each pass. I was feeling so good that the last thing I thought would happen would be a broken transmission, and that's what happened when I tried to shift into second gear.
"We feel great though that we're getting a better handle on the racecar - this GTO is a bad hot rod right now. We let one slip away here today, no doubt about it, and we left the door wide open for Kurt (Johnson), who is certainly gaining ground on us. But we leave here knowing we have a great hot rod so that's a confidence builder. We just have to make sure this doesn't happen again."
In Funny Car, No. 2 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. advanced to the semifinal round defeating Bob Bode in the first heat and Cruz Pedregon in the quarterfinals before losing to John Force in round three. Johnson's performance this weekend in the Skoal Racing Chevy Monte Carlo moved the Avon, Ind. resident to within 142 points of first-place Robert Hight.
"We're at least keeping ourselves in the hunt for the championship," said Johnson. "We would have liked to have gone to the final today, I felt this Chevy Monte Carlo was certainly capable of going to the final round, but advancing to the semifinals isn't so bad. You have to go rounds and you cannot go out first round - that's the key. We've only had a few of those this year so that's helped us. We had a good consistent car that had been running solid all weekend but for some reason it dropped a cylinder in that round. We're only 142 points out of the lead and that's not too bad - it means we're in the hunt. We're plenty capable of closing that gap before the end of the year. With seven to go, we're extremely happy with that. We have to keep going to at least the semifinals, and if we can have a couple of good races where we go to the finals, we're going to be right there at Pomona."
The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series is the 18th annual O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals on Aug. 19 - 21 at Memphis Motorsports Park in Memphis, Tenn.