Kurt Johnson Powers to an Impressive Win in Brainerd August 10, 2008, Brainerd, MN -- Minnesota native Kurt Johnson scored his third win of the 2008 POWERade Drag Racing season in impressive fashion on Sunday, taking home the Pro Stock title at...
Kurt Johnson Powers to an Impressive Win in Brainerd
August 10, 2008, Brainerd, MN -- Minnesota native Kurt Johnson scored his third win of the 2008 POWERade Drag Racing season in impressive fashion on Sunday, taking home the Pro Stock title at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, MN. Starting second, Johnson and his ACDelco Cobalt were clearly the class of the field on race day, leaving the starting line first and posting the low elapsed time in each of the four rounds of eliminations. It was the 39th national event win of his career, and fourth at Brainerd International Raceway, tying him with his father Warren Johnson, Bruce Allen and Lee Shepherd for the most by a Pro Stock competitor at the Minnesota quarter-mile.
"The ACDelco Cobalt crew had a great day today," said Johnson. "As close as the competition is in Pro Stock, any time you can leave on all four opponents, out run them and come out with the trophy, you've accomplished something. Every round we ran today was like a final, and to be able to beat teams and drivers of the caliber of Yates, Edwards, Coughlin and Connolly says a lot about our team. It just feels awesome.
"It's always great to win here in Minnesota. I don't know what it is about Brainerd, but we always seem to do well here -- I guess the track just suits my style. We also had a lot of family and friends on hand throughout the weekend to cheer us on, which makes it even better. You always want to show off for them, and I can tell you they're all having a good time right now."
After qualifying second, Johnson emphatically staked his claim for the win in the first round, resetting the Brainerd elapsed time track record with a 6.648-second time and 207.62 mph top speed to defeat veteran Jim Yates. He continued his quarter-mile mastery in the subsequent two rounds, eliminating Mike Edwards and defending Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin.
The final obstacle between Johnson and his home state winner's circle was noted leaver David Connolly, who had won the last race in Sonoma two weeks ago. Knowing he would need a complete performance in order to take home the trophy, KJ combined a lightning-quick .014 reaction time with a 6.671-second, 207.05 mph pass to outdistance his opponent and score the win.
"Our ACDelco Cobalt wasn't where we needed it to be at first, but we kept working on it, and it just got faster and faster," said Johnson. "We made some good calls on the tune-up, kept a good eye on the racetrack all weekend, and it all worked out in our favor. It was the fastest car out here today, and anytime you have that, it makes the driver feel a lot better. It was a tremendous effort by the whole team."
Johnson also wanted to recognize the efforts of a fellow Minnesotan who had come to the team's assistance in the last month. Following the unexpected departure of a crewmember prior to the start of the Western Swing, Fridley native Brian Strait, who had gone to high school with KJ joined the team on an interim basis, performing whatever duties necessary. Even though the team welcomed Rob Charmello to the crew at this race, Strait still made the trip from his current home in Las Vegas to help coach the team's latest addition.
"Brian has been my friend for a long time, and has always been there when I needed him," stated Johnson. "He came through for us in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, and once we found Rob, who will need a little training but we believe is going to be good, Brian came up here and coached him, letting Justin (crewmember Belfance) and myself concentrate on doing our jobs, giving us more time to be perfect. We always talk about the hat dance teams do in the winner's circle, and it was great to get to do it with him and the rest of the ACDelco crew here today."
Finally, Johnson's performance allowed him to move up one position in the POWERade points standings, ascending to second while simultaneously gaining ground on the points leader. With only two races remaining before the start of the NHRA's playoff season, the second-generation racer has his sights set on regaining the top position.
"It feels good to gain ground in the points standings," said Johnson "There's a bonus of thirty points for the leader going into the Countdown to One, and we're after that, because they could be huge at the end of the year. For now, we're just going to keep trying our best, and see how it all works out.
"This win is in the books, and after taking a little time to celebrate tonight, this ACDelco Cobalt crew will put it behind us and focus on doing whatever it takes to do this all over again five days from now in Reading."