Kurt Johnson's Day Ends in Peculiar Fashion in the Atlanta Semis After qualifying 13th for Sunday's eliminations of the Summit Racing NHRA Southern Nationals, Kurt Johnson knew he had his work cut out for him. Not only would he open his pursuit...
Kurt Johnson's Day Ends in Peculiar Fashion in the Atlanta Semis
After qualifying 13th for Sunday's eliminations of the Summit Racing NHRA Southern Nationals, Kurt Johnson knew he had his work cut out for him. Not only would he open his pursuit of his second national event win of 2004 against rival Jeg Coughlin, he would do so without the benefit of lane choice. Undaunted, the ACDelco Cavalier pilot combined the fastest reaction of the opening stanza (011) with the quickest elapsed time in the less-preferred lane (6.842 seconds) to defeat Coughlin and advance to the second round.
Johnson's assignment did not get any easier, as he would match up against three-time Pro Stock champion Darrell Alderman, again, without the luxury of choosing his lane. In a repeat of the first round, KJ gained a two-hundredth of a second advantage at the start and drove away from his opponent, posting a 6.837-second elapsed time with a top speed of 202.15 mph.
The final obstacle standing between Johnson and his third Atlanta championship round was No. 1 qualifier Larry Morgan. Unfortunately, a mechanical gremlin prevented Johnson from starting his race car, a problem that was compounded by difficulties remounting the carbon-fiber nose.
Although Morgan graciously waited, and the ACDelco crew was able to eventually get their car started and rolling to the starting line, NHRA officials determined Johnson had exceeded an acceptable time limit and counted him out, handing the automatic win to his opponent. Afterwards, a philosophical Johnson explained the events that led to his unusual disqualification.
"We normally tape the starter cable in place, and it came out when I tried to start it for the semis. Unfortunately, it came out to the point that it arced, which created a burr that prevented us from simply re-inserting it.
"In order to get the car started, Joe (crewmember Cottle) had to hold the cable in place until ithe engine fired, after which he had to wrap the cable around the chassis tubing so it wouldn't flap around during the run. Once we solved that problem, we had some issues putting the nose back on, and we finally just ran out of time.
"I'd like to thank Larry Morgan for his sportsmanship. He did everything he could to let us race, just as we would have if the situation was reversed. He knows it's not any fun for either the fans or the competitors to win a race when you don't have anyone to race. It's not his fault.
"I guess we've found a new way to lose one of these. I'm not saying the ACDelco Cavalier would have definitely won, but I certainly would have liked to have had the chance.
"Even with the strange ending, it was still a good day. We made some changes this morning, ran fairly well and went some rounds, which, considering that wasn't our best motor, is pretty encouraging. I guess it's on to Chicago, where the ACDelco crew will try to defend both the national event and King Demon titles."