Columbus: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ Zeroes In on a Winning Combination for Columbus ACDelco Cobalt crew looks for first Buckeye win at Pontiac Performance Nationals Sugar Hill, Ga., May 16, 2005 -- For the first time during the 2005 season, the POWERade Drag Racing Series...

KJ Zeroes In on a Winning Combination for Columbus
ACDelco Cobalt crew looks for first Buckeye win at Pontiac Performance Nationals

Sugar Hill, Ga., May 16, 2005 -- For the first time during the 2005 season, the POWERade Drag Racing Series will be competing on consecutive weekends, heading to Columbus, Ohio immediately after the race in Atlanta. Under normal circumstances, this presents a tremendous challenge for the race teams, as they must perform their between-race maintenance and complete the travel to the next event in the space of a few days.

However, this assignment takes on added significance for Kurt Johnson and his crew as they prepare for this weekend's Pontiac Performance Nationals. As only the third national event with their new ACDelco Cobalt, the team's database remains extremely limited, especially when considering the varying weather conditions encountered over the last two events. In addition, the compressed schedule prevents additional testing which could help answer any questions.

Therefore, the team will continue to walk a fine line during this weekend's race, combining their competitive efforts with their pursuit of additional knowledge of their still unfamiliar race car.

"Naturally, we can use all the information we can gather on this new ACDelco Cobalt, making every run that much more important," said Johnson. "Unfortunately, when you have back-to-back races, there's no time for testing, so we have been forced to try things in qualifying.

"It's certainly not the best way to do things, and you never want to jeopardize your chances for Sunday, but at this point, we really don't have an option. We are still working on determining its exact tuning window, for which we need time on the track.

"So far it seems to like an ugly, slippery race track, and should we encounter those conditions in Columbus, we can certainly tune for it. However, we still need to figure out exactly what it needs to run on a good racing surface. Right now, it wants to wheel stand, which means it has too much bite. Fortunately, as we go through the learning curve, we know we have the power to run up front once we get things straightened out, so we're not too concerned."

One fact further fueling Johnson's motivation for this weekend's race is that National Trail Raceway is one of the few stops on the NHRA circuit where he has yet to reach the winner's circle.

"They repaved Columbus last year, and the surface didn't really come around until Sunday," said Johnson. "Hopefully, this year it will be good right off the bat. Of course, a lot will have to do with how it is prepared. The date change should also help, because when we raced here in June we could run into either very hot weather or rain.

"I was the runner-up there as a rookie in 1993, but have yet to win. However, I think it's time for this crew to change our ways and park this ACDelco Cobalt in the winner's circle. It'll take a combination of everyone on the team doing their job and a little luck, but I'm confident we can get it done."

Notes on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team entering The Pontiac Performance Nationals:

* KJ in Columbus: This will be Kurt's 13th appearance at National Trail Raceway, where he has one final round appearance in 1993, and one No. 1 qualifying performance in 1998.

* One year ago: Kurt qualified ninth with an elapsed time of 6.833 seconds and a top speed of 201.16 mph and advanced to the quarterfinals.

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

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

-j2r-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson