Brainerd Pro Stock notebook

CHAMPION AUTO STORES NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Special week: While Minnesota native Kurt Johnson admits that it's always fun to return to his roots to race at Brainerd International Raceway, this year's race week will have even more...

CHAMPION AUTO STORES NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Special week: While Minnesota native Kurt Johnson admits that it's always fun to return to his roots to race at Brainerd International Raceway, this year's race week will have even more significance. Johnson and his wife, Kathy, will witness the baptism of their 9-month-old son, Conner. The Johnson's first child will be baptized in the same Fridley, Minn., church where they were married. "That's going to be neat," Kurt Johnson said. *Just short: Jim Yates fell just a foot short of becoming the first Pro Stock driver to sweep the annual "Western swing" of three races, losing to Mike Edwards in the final of the Northwest Nationals at Seattle. Yates won the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals on July 20 in Denver and the Autolite Nationals on July 27 at Sonoma, Calif., in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird. *For the boss: Mike Edwards earned more than money and NHRA Winston points with his victory at the Northwest Nationals: He gave a boost to an ailing friend. John Kight, Edwards' car owner and close friend, suffered a stroke in mid-July at Denver. That burden was added to other medical problems, including heart bypass surgery earlier this year. "This is a great morale booster for me and for him," Edwards said. "He was elated. John has had faith in me when I didn't have faith in myself. "It was a great day for us, and hopefully things will get better for him." *Padding the lead: Jim Yates built his lead over Warren Johnson to 128 points in the NHRA Winston point standings after the Northwest Nationals, his largest advantage of the season. But Brainerd International Raceway is a good place for Johnson to chip at that lead. He has won this event four times, including the last two years in his GM Goodwrench Service Plus entries. Yates is doing a better job of getting his power to the ground than any other driver, rival Kurt Johnson said. "He's got a really good clutch combination right now," Kurt Johnson said. "He's really fast from 60 feet to 330 feet. He doesn't have any more power than we do. "We've just got to get our act together as far as getting our 60 and 330 numbers down. He's really quick right there, and that's where we're lacking." *Different development: Most multicar teams will use the lower- placed driver's car to test new equipment and concepts on the track while the top driver uses a proven setup. That's not the case at Warren Johnson Enterprises. The boss, Warren Johnson, always gets the hot stuff right away if it shows promise on testing equipment in the shop, said his son, Pro Stock driver Kurt Johnson. "If there's something trick, something new, something faster that comes off the dyno, he wants it on his car," Kurt Johnson said of his father. "He doesn't worry about putting it on someone else's car and testing it. He wants the best stuff right off the bat. You can't blame him for that." *Golden Arches are cookin': Jim Yates has been the common thread in the recent success of the McDonald's race team. Two of the three McDonald's cars have appeared in a professional final at the last four NHRA national events, with Yates in the final at all four. Yates' streak started with a runner-up finish to Warren Johnson at the Sears Craftsman Nationals in late June at Madison, Ill., where McDonald's Top Fuel driver Cruz Pedregon was runner-up. Yates and McDonald's Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan won at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals in Denver and the Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, Calif., while McClenathan won and Yates was runner-up at the Northwest Nationals in Seattle. *Truckin': The exhibition NHRA Pro Stock Truck program will continue at the Champion Auto Stores Nationals as Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford pickups will race against each other in exhibition passes. Longtime NHRA competitors Jerry Haas and John Lingenfelter will drive two Chevrolet S-10 trucks, Team Mopar Pro Stock drivers Darrell Alderman and Scott Geoffrion will drive two Dodge Dakotas, and Roy Hill and Richie Stevens will drive two Ford Rangers. All six trucks will participate on an exhibition basis for the rest of the NHRA season. The Pro Stock Truck program started at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals, June 12-15 at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio, with Chevrolet exhibition passes by Haas and Lingenfelter. Dodge made its debut at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July 17-20 at Denver. Ford unveiled its trucks at the Autolite Nationals, July 25-27 at Sonoma, Calif. The Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford trucks each are powered by a 358 cubic-inch, eight-cylinder engine. The minimum weight of the trucks with driver is 2,300 pounds. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 2 p.m. Aug. 15 and continues at 6 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. Aug. 16. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Aug. 17. Federal-Mogul competition starts at noon Aug. 14. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Champion Auto Stores Nationals. Call Brainerd International Raceway at (612) 475-1500. *On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of live, final-round competition from the Champion Auto Stores Nationals at 4 p.m. (CDT) Aug. 17. ESPN also will show two hours of live, Friday-evening qualifying at 6:30 p.m. (CDT) Aug. 15. -30- 8/6/97-BM4-123

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , John Lingenfelter , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Scott Geoffrion , Jerry Haas , Mike Edwards