Charlotte: Kurt Johnson Saturday notes

Kurt Johnson qualifies No. 3 for the Carolinas Nationals CONCORD, N.C., Sept. 19, 2009 -- ACDelco's Kurt Johnson is qualified in the No. 3 spot for tomorrow's Pro Stock eliminator at the 2nd annual Carolinas Nationals at zMax Dragway. He'll...

Kurt Johnson qualifies No. 3 for the Carolinas Nationals

CONCORD, N.C., Sept. 19, 2009 -- ACDelco's Kurt Johnson is qualified in the No. 3 spot for tomorrow's Pro Stock eliminator at the 2nd annual Carolinas Nationals at zMax Dragway. He'll race No. 14 qualifier Ryan Ondrejko in round one of eliminations.

It is Johnson's best race-day starting position since early May when he was No. 3 at St. Louis, and although it is not Johnson's best qualifying effort of the season (he was No. 2 at Houston), the veteran driver admits that it's the best four rounds of time trials he's strung together all year.

"We've been deadly fast on occasion this year," Johnson said, "but we haven't had the consistency for all four rounds of qualifying or eliminations that we had last season. To come here on a race track where other good drivers are struggling, the first race of the Countdown, where every point counts, you have to feel good about that."

Johnson's times in all four qualifying sessions would have been good enough for the top half of the field, and his elapsed time of 6.651 seconds at 208.10 mph recorded in Saturday's morning round was his qualifying time of record.

The ACDelco Chevy driver ran 6.668 seconds in round one of time trials, 6.662 seconds in round two and 6.673 seconds in round four. Johnson also picked up two Countdown bonus points for being the second quickest in round three, and he was awarded one bonus point for being the third quickest of the session in round four. Johnson's top speed in Q3 is the third fastest so far this weekend.

"It's good to get back to the consistency we had last year," Johnson said. "We tried reverting to that setup a couple of points in the middle of the season, but you always have to be open-minded in this game, although at times it can bite you. To come here, earn three bonus from qualifying from being second and third quickest during today's two session, that's something we haven't done all year -- that was a big step there. We haven't qualified as high as third since St. Louis so things are looking up.

"We definitely need some breaks to get to the final tomorrow, but if the car is consistent then it makes my job a little easier -- it takes a big load off there, and now it's done to small, detailed changes and that's what makes it nice."

Johnson entered this weekend's race in eighth place in the points standings trailing seventh-place Ron Krisher by 10 points. But with Krisher's DNQ today, Johnson will leave the Carolinas Nationals no worse than seventh place in the Pro Stock Full Throttle standings.

"Hopefully we can put some rounds together tomorrow and keep moving up," Johnson said. "From here on out, every round is going to be like a final round.

"This ACDelco Chevrolet is coming around. Believe me, it's a blessing that this car is running good finally. We struggled for the first 18 races, but we put our heads together to come up with a solution for these last six and that's what counts. It's going to be a battle out here -- it's going to be tough."

The No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock was Mike Edwards in Pontiac with a 6.614 e.t. at 208.97 mph. In the No. 2 slot was Ronnie Humphrey in a Pontiac, followed by Kurt Johnson, Greg Stanfield and Jason Line.

Qualifying coverage of the NHRA Carolinas Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, Sept. 19, beginning at 11:30 p.m. Eastern. Final eliminations coverage gets underway on Sunday, Sept. 20 with NHRA Race Day starting at 11 a.m., and then a three-hour telecast of final eliminations kicks off at 7 p.m. Eastern.

-credit: j&jr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Ron Krisher , Greg Stanfield , Jason Line , Ronnie Humphrey , Mike Edwards