THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, Minn., Aug. 17-19 Kurt Goes Back To Brainerd As Defending Champion While Jim Nabors' stirring rendition of "Back Home...
THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, Minn., Aug. 17-19
Kurt Goes Back To Brainerd As Defending Champion
While Jim Nabors' stirring rendition of "Back Home Again in Indiana" traditionally signals the start of the Indianapolis 500, the theme song for Kurt Johnson's annual expedition to Brainerd International Raceway is "Back Home Again in Minnesota." Johnson will return to his birthplace as the defending Pro Stock champion of the Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals at BIR on Aug. 17-19.
Johnson is a two-time winner in Brainerd. He defeated Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the final round of last year's event and defeated Jim Yates in the final round in 1997. Currently ranked sixth in the Pro Stock standings, K.J. is poised to improve his position in the final third of the season.
"We've been working on engine parts that should put some more horses under the hood of my ACDelco Cavalier," Johnson said. "We want to go to Brainerd and show them off."
Johnson also has a new Cavalier constructed by Minnesota craftsman Don Ness in his racing stable. K.J. won't debut the new chassis in competition until it is thoroughly tested, however.
"We have high hopes for the new tubing," Kurt commented. "We took some of the information that we learned with Dad's Grand Am, some of the data from the Camaro I drove last year and a few ideas from the Jerry Haas chassis I've raced since the start of the season. It could be a real fast hot rod. That's what I'm hoping for!"
Johnson experimented with huge slicks used on alcohol-burning Funny Cars at the preceding race in Sonoma, Calif. The big tires proved less susceptible to tire shake than conventional Pro Stock rubber on the tricky Sears Point Raceway track, but the lack of proper gear ratios hampered K.J.'s top speed.
"We'll go back to our regular tire and gear combination at Brainerd so that will bring up our back-half numbers," Kurt explained.
Johnson was red-hot in last season's "Western Swing," racking up two victories and a semi-final finish that propelled him from sixth to fourth in the Winston championship standings. This year's results were more temperate, with a runner-up finish in Denver his best result.
"The Western Swing was brutal on everybody," Kurt observed. "The competition is so close that it's like a NASCAR race in one mile."
Johnson is one of ten Pro Stock drivers who have won in 2001 - a record number of different winners for the class. Only his father Warren and reigning champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. have won more than once this year. For Kurt Johnson, there's no place like his ancestral home to post his second victory of the season.
KURT JOHNSON'S BRAINERD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY RECORD:
Year Qual. Result
1993 3 Semi Final
1994 7 First Round
1995 5 Second Round
1996 10 First Round
1997 3 Winner (over Yates)
1998 9 Semi Final
1999 2 Semi-Final
2000 2 Winner (over J. Coughlin)