Brainerd: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ & Crew Work to Make Brainerd the First of Eight Great Races ACDelco Cobalt Sets Strategy for Races Ahead Sugar Hill, Ga., August 9, 2005 -- There are eight races left in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season. Entering this ...

KJ & Crew Work to Make Brainerd the First of Eight Great Races
ACDelco Cobalt Sets Strategy for Races Ahead

Sugar Hill, Ga., August 9, 2005 -- There are eight races left in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season. Entering this weekend's Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, MN, Kurt Johnson and his ACDelco Cobalt Racing team sit third in the championship standings, 94 points out of the lead, putting them in a better position than they have been in five years.

With two wins and three final round appearances in the last four races, they have already made up a tremendous amount of ground on the leaders, cutting the deficit by more than half. However, the Johnson crew knows their work is far from done, and arrive at Brainerd International Raceway focused on capturing their third win of the year.

"Ideally, you like to pick up about twenty points per race on your opponents," said Johnson. "However, through a combination of hard work and good luck, this ACDelco Cobalt crew has been able to better that average significantly over the last few races.

"For example, we were fortunate to have the four teams ahead of us at the time go out in the first round in Seattle. However, we still had to do our part to capitalize on it, and the team and car responded to the challenge, winning the race. Our job now is to make sure we stay ahead of schedule for the rest of the year."

After three consecutive weekends of racing, the world's best quarter-milers were able to enjoy a little time back at their shops, performing much-needed maintenance as well as a little research and development, all part of the never-ending search for speed. For Johnson and his tight-knit crew, it was also an opportunity to set their strategy for the races ahead.

"The little time we had between races allows us to settle down and put a plan together for the next five or six weeks," detailed Johnson. "You start by looking at the results from the last few weeks to see what needs to happen in the future in order to stay ahead in this program. We also try to squeeze in a little r&d whenever possible. You always have a multitude of projects running at the same time.

"It's all part of being ready for the next four races, which is our planning schedule. After that, we'll plan for the final four events. Everyone is working hard right now both at the track and in the shop including my guys and Dad's crew -- it's a total team effort. It's all part of making sure we have fresh pieces in the system, so both my ACDelco Cobalt and his GM Performance Parts GTO can effectively challenge for the championship -- it would be interesting if we could end the year with the two of us in a tie at the top."

Despite a record of success at Brainerd International Raceway, Johnson knows there will be no room for error this weekend. Embroiled in a six-second, 200-mph dogfight, it often comes down to the driver, and this second-generation racer is ready for the challenge.

"In Pro Stock, it often comes down to who lets the clutch out first on Sunday," stated Johnson. "We know our ACDelco Cobalt is capable of making good, consistent runs, but so are our competitors. You need the entire package -- car, crew and driver all have to do their jobs, and that is what we concentrate on doing every week.

"Hopefully, we can start by making a good hit right off the bat and get ourselves solidly in the show. Of course, we'll have our sights set on winning the pole, because as close as the competition is this year, qualifying points could come into play at the end of the year. After that, we'll focus on going rounds on Sunday, trying to get our third win and keep moving forward. The plan is in place -- it's up to us to execute it."

Notes on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team entering the Lucas Oil Nationals:

* Brainerd has been good for KJ: This will be Kurt's 13th appearance at Brainerd International Raceway, where he has two wins in 1997 & 2000 in three final round appearances, and a 22-10 elimination round record in his 12 previous starts. In addition, Kurt has one No. 1 qualifying performance in Minnesota in 2003, and only two starts outside the top half of the field, with an average starting position of 5.0.

* One year ago: Kurt qualified thirteenth with an elapsed time of 6.789 seconds and a top speed of 202.73 mph, and advanced to the quarter-finals.

* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.665 sec., Seattle, WA 7/23/05

* Career best top speed: 207.15 mph, Seattle, WA 7/23/05


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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson