Commerce: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ Looks for Familiarity to Breed Competitiveness in Atlanta Knowledge and experience will be ACDelco crew's primary weapons in Georgia Sugar Hill, Ga., May 9, 2005 -- At the NHRA's most recent race in Bristol, TN, Pro Stock standout Kurt ...

KJ Looks for Familiarity to Breed Competitiveness in Atlanta
Knowledge and experience will be ACDelco crew's primary weapons in Georgia

Sugar Hill, Ga., May 9, 2005 -- At the NHRA's most recent race in Bristol, TN, Pro Stock standout Kurt Johnson and his crew faced a variety of challenges. They had completed their revolutionary new ACDelco Cobalt only days before the event, resulting in minimal testing time beforehand, conditions that had forced other competitors to miss the new Chevrolet model's scheduled debut. In addition, rains limited qualifying to only one session on Saturday.

However, even with the limited experience with their race car and a tricky racetrack, Johnson's team responded, finishing third in qualifying and on race day, outperforming even those who had elected to us their older, proven race cars. Having put this stern test behind them, the ACDelco crew turned their attention towards preparing for this weekend's Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals in Atlanta, GA, starting with a two-day test session at Atlanta Dragway immediately following the last race.

"Our goal in testing was rather simple -- to gain additional knowledge on this ACDelco Cobalt," said Johnson. "We made quite a few runs, some good and some bad, and tried a variety of things. It's hard to say just how successful we were, because we had to deal with a few issues that cropped up during the test.

"The good part is that with every pass we accumulated more data on this new car. It's all part of the process of sorting out a new race car. We really won't know how effective we were until we let the clutch out on Friday, but I suspect we'll be just fine."

With only a handful of runs in their notebook, Johnson's close-knit crew will have to rely on their years of experience under varying conditions to make the necessary adjustments to their still unfamiliar chassis. Aiding in their cause will be the location of this weekend's race. Located just over a half-hour's drive from their shop in Sugar Hill, Atlanta Dragway has been the team's primary test facility for many years, although its proximity remains its prime advantage.

"As often as everyone else tests in Commerce, I wouldn't say we have a home field advantage, other than some extra fans in the stands," stated Johnson. "Besides, Atlanta Dragway is not a good track to test on, because it is prepared so differently for a national event. This past week, however, the track was pretty good, so hopefully we gathered some valuable information. The cooler temperatures we had made for ideal conditions. Of course, the forecast is calling for much warmer temperatures this weekend, reducing the effectiveness of the data collected.

"At this point, we will use anything we can get. This ACDelco Cobalt is radically different from its predecessor, so we are limited in the tuning information we can use from the last car, using it more as a guideline. Fortunately, after one race, the new car has already shown the potential of being very fast, so it's up to us to quickly determine its tuning window, which will allow us to adapt to the conditions. Right now, our main concern will be making sure the car goes straight, and until we get that trophy, it will be just another tool we need to keep working on.

"As always, it's just a matter of having enough bodies in the shop and hours in the day to get it all done. That's the biggest benefit of having a home race. We're able to spend more time at the shop getting ready, and by staying at home, you're more refreshed. It definitely helps.

"We feel that we'll be putting this ACDelco Cobalt in the winner's circle pretty soon. It's also been a long time since I last won in Atlanta in 1996, so taking care of both this weekend works just fine for me."

Notes on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team entering

The Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals:

* KJ feels right at home in Atlanta: This will be Kurt's thirteenth appearance at Atlanta Dragway, where he has one win (in 1996) in three final round appearances, and a 191 elimination round record for a .633 round win percentage.

* ACDelco Cobalt, Take Two: This will be KJ's second race with his radically new ACDelco Cobalt. In his first race two weeks ago in Bristol, he made NHRA history by making the first start and elimination round wins for the new Chevy Pro Stocker.

* One year ago: Kurt qualified thirteenth with an elapsed time of 6.832 seconds and a top speed of 202.18 mph and defeated former champions Jeg Coughlin and Darrell Alderman in advancing 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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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson