Kurt Johnson Battles to a Popular Win in Brainerd ACDelco Crew Scores Third Win of 2005 at Lucas Oil Nationals Sugar Hill, Ga., August 14, 2005 -- ACDelco Cobalt pilot Kurt Johnson continued his torrid pace in the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing...
Kurt Johnson Battles to a Popular Win in Brainerd
ACDelco Crew Scores Third Win of 2005 at Lucas Oil Nationals
Sugar Hill, Ga., August 14, 2005 -- ACDelco Cobalt pilot Kurt Johnson continued his torrid pace in the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series on Sunday, winning the Pro Stock title at the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, MN. After qualifying third, the Minnesota native defeated Kenny Koretsky and David Howard, and Greg Anderson in the early rounds before squaring off against Greg Stanfield in the final.
Just as he had in the previous three rounds, Johnson was first off the starting line and never looked back, punctuating his winning performance with his quickest pass of the day at 6.726-seconds with a top speed of 204.57 mph to Stanfield's 6.778-second, 203.71 mph effort. This was the 31st national event win of Johnson's career, third of the 2005 season, and third at Brainerd International Raceway.
"I knew going in to the final that I would have to be on top of my game, because Greg is one of the best drivers out there at getting off the starting line," said Johnson. "They're a good team that's due for a win, and every time I race him, he is deathly quick off the line. Fortunately, I was able to leave ahead of him, and the ACDelco Cobalt made a nice smooth run to get to the stripe first.
"It's always great when you win, but it's even better to do it here in Minnesota, where we have so many family and friends come out to cheer us on. There's a lot of happy people in those grandstands right now, and I'm glad we were able to reward them for their support."
Even though the ACDelco crew entered this race as the hottest team in Pro Stock over the last four races, with two wins in three final round appearances, today's win was anything but routine. From the start of qualifying on Friday afternoon through the final on Sunday, they found themselves constantly working on their race car, trying to find extra performance. With every pass, they gathered additional information and adjusted accordingly, with the strategy proving effective during qualifying, when a stellar 6.721-second run on their final attempt earned them the third starting position.
It was a similar situation on Sunday, when the team kept finding ways to win. Johnson also did his part behind the wheel, gaining a starting line advantage over every driver he faced. Their hard work was rewarded in the semifinals, when the second-generation racer made one of the quickest runs of the day in the less preferred right hand lane at 6.740 seconds with a top speed of 204.98 mph to take full advantage of rival Greg Anderson's transmission failure and advance to the 59th final round of his career, setting the stage for his encounter against Stanfield.
"This was a very satisfying win for the entire team just because of how hard we worked to get it," stated Johnson. "After it ran so well going to the final in Sonoma, we had pretty much left it alone except for freshening the motor, but for some reason when we arrived in Brainerd, our top speed was off by a mile an hour. However, we never gave up -- we just kept working, trying things to make it better.
"We came in this morning knowing we didn't have the fastest car, but felt fairly confident that it was one we could win with. We even changed the motor, which wasn't as big a risk as it sounds, because we knew it would perform well. We just wanted to confirm that it was the tune-up that was hindering us and not the motor. Once we did that, we knew we were pointed in the right direction, and it all paid off.
"Certainly, we had a few things go our way, but you make your own luck. You have to put yourself in the right position to take advantage of your good fortune and today, thanks to some hard work by my crew, Kevin Horst and Joe Cottle, we did. All in all, it was a great day for this ACDelco Cobalt team.
"We've been on a bit of a roll lately, but we don't consider ourselves hot -- we're just on the move. Hopefully, we can keep moving forward. I know it's a cliche, but we're going to take these last seven races one at a time, and see how we end up after the Finals in Pomona."