Bristol: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ Battles Compressed Schedule to Complete Cobalt for Bristol ACDelco crew preps new car for successful debut at O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals Sugar Hill, Ga., April 26, 2005 -- Throughout his illustrious career, ACDelco Pro Stock driver...

KJ Battles Compressed Schedule to Complete Cobalt for Bristol
ACDelco crew preps new car for successful debut at O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals

Sugar Hill, Ga., April 26, 2005 -- Throughout his illustrious career, ACDelco Pro Stock driver Kurt Johnson has built his reputation by being fast on the race track. In twelve years, he has powered his way to 28 national event wins in 54 final round appearances and scored 23 No. 1 qualifying positions. This consistent performance has allowed him to finish in the Top Ten of the POWERade Championship standings in every season that he has competed in the NHRA's Pro Stock division, which is arguably the most competitive in all of motorsports.

However, as he and his team prepare for this weekend's O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, TN, they will have to exhibit a different kind of speed, namely that of finishing their sleek new Chevy Cobalt in time for the event. As Johnson sees it, it is shaping up to be a race as tight as any seen on the race track.

"We had approximately ten days of work to do in order to complete our ACDelco Cobalt once we received it at the shop," explained Johnson. "We've had to do everything from wiring it up, installing the computer system and cutting the hood for the hood scoop, to making sure the driver's seat and seat belts fit properly. We also transferred quite a few components from the old car, including the shocks, tires and wheels.

"Unfortunately, with the combination of our only recently receiving the car, which was by design, and the way the schedule has been over the last few weeks, we will only have about four days to get it ready in time for Bristol. We've taken all the wiring out of our old car, so we have no choice but to finish it.

"We'd certainly like to do a little testing before we get to the track, but with the forecast calling for cold and rainy weather in the early part of next week, we may end up letting the clutch out on Thursday morning just to shake it down before loading up and heading to Tennessee, or, even worse, we may make our first pass with this new car on Friday in qualifying."

Despite the last-minute scramble, the entire Johnson crew is excited by the potential the new car has to offer.

"Our new ACDelco Cobalt looks fast sitting still, and we think it will be pretty sporty on the track," said Johnson. "Mentally, it's exciting -- you just can't beat that new car smell. But seriously, it's always good to have new tubing under you. The extra stiffness in a brand-new chassis tends to respond better to changes. I've also looked at the wind tunnel data, and it's better than our previous car, which also helps. Even though our old car was pretty good, this new one shows a lot of promise."

"Even with limited or no testing, we should be in good shape. We have plenty of data from both team cars, which should give us a good idea of where to start. Naturally, the key will be getting it to go straight."

Adding to the special nature of this weekend's event is its location, Bristol Dragway, which has been a part of the Johnson family racing scene for over 25 years.

"We've raced at Bristol since 1979, and it has always been a special place," said Johnson. "After all, it's Thunder Valley, wedged in between the mountains, with the sound of the cars booming through the hills. The new configuration since it joined the NHRA has only made it better. It's a typical top-of-the-line Bruton Smith facility with great amenities for both the racers and the fans.

"We won there a couple of years ago, and it would be pretty cool if we could get our second win in Tennessee while also giving the ACDelco Cobalt a win in its first race. We did it with the last car (Johnson won the 2001 Winternationals in Pomona in the Chevy Cavalier's Pro Stock debut), and we'd certainly like to repeat that performance this weekend."

Notes on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Chevrolet Racing team entering The O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals:

* KJ knows how to win in Thunder Valley: This will be Kurt's fifth appearance at Bristol Dragway, where he has one win in 2003, and a 7-3 elimination round record for a .700 round win percentage.

* Kurt's Qualifying Stats at Bristol: In his four prior starts in Bristol, Kurt has three starts in the top half of the field, and a 7.7 average starting position

* Welcome to Pro Stock, Cobalt: Kurt's new ACDelco Pro Stock Cobalt will be unveiled as part of the GM Racing press conference at Bristol Dragway at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, April 29.

* One year ago: Kurt qualified third with an elapsed time of 6.841 seconds and advanced to the semi-finals.

* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.671 sec., Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05

* Career best top speed: 207.13 mph, Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05


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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson