Kurt Johnson Stays His Course Preparing for Home Race ACDelco Racing team in search of second win at Atlanta Dragway Sugar Hill, Ga., May 10, 2004 - Approximately twenty miles south of Atlanta Dragway, site of this weekend's Summit Racing NHRA...
Kurt Johnson Stays His Course Preparing for Home Race
ACDelco Racing team in search of second win at Atlanta Dragway
Sugar Hill, Ga., May 10, 2004 - Approximately twenty miles south of Atlanta Dragway, site of this weekend's Summit Racing NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac, is the town of Sugar Hill, GA. Nestled among various industrial sites in this quiet Atlanta suburb is Warren Johnson Enterprises, headquarters for the most successful father-and-son combination in the history of the NHRA.
The plain brick exterior gives little evidence of the racing technology developed within, reflecting its occupants' business-like approach to the sport of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing. However, a step into the front office reveals floor-to-ceiling cabinets packed with trophies, partial evidence of the organization's 130 NHRA national event wins and 6 NHRA Pro Stock championships.
This shop currently houses Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Cavalier as well as the GM Performance Parts Grand Am campaigned by his father Warren Johnson. However, even though the two teams share technology and tuning data, their pre-race preparation may often vary. For example, this week the senior Johnson will spend two days testing at another track, while K.J. will remain at the shop searching for horsepower and fine-tuning his chassis configuration.
"Even though our results were not what we were looking for in Bristol, we were fairly happy with our ACDelco Cavalier's performance, so we're preparing for this weekend's race the same way we've done all season," said Johnson. "In Tennessee, we were dealing with a unique racetrack, and an unconventional tuning combination, so we will put that race behind us and focus on this weekend's race in Atlanta, where we have notebooks full of tuning data.
"Of course, there is always room for improvement, so we'll continue to put in long hours at the shop. We believe we have a set-up we can tune from, so instead of going somewhere to test, we'll be working on the dyno trying to find some extra horsepower, because you can never have enough."
Naturally, Johnson can expect his own cheering section at the Georgia quarter-mile this weekend, as many Warren Johnson Enterprises employees, as well family members and personal friends will come out to watch the team in action. Despite the added company, it will be business as usual for the ACDelco crew, as they look to score their second win of the 2004 season, and second at Atlanta Dragway.
"Being our home race, we'll probably have quite a few friends and family members in the stands, so we're going to do the best job we can and give them something to cheer about," stated Johnson. "Although we appreciate the support, and enjoy having them come out to watch, once we pull in the gate, we're all business, so we might as well be racing in California, except for the post-race victory party, which would be huge.
"I think we should be in pretty good shape. We've tested at Atlanta Dragway four or five times already this year, so assuming the NHRA's track preparation doesn't do anything drastic to the racing surface, we should have a good baseline set-up. If all goes well, the biggest challenge the ACDelco Cavalier team will face is accommodating everyone and finding enough tickets to get them into the racetrack."
On racing at your "home" track:
"The best part of racing in Atlanta is being able to sleep in our own beds, and having the family with you at the track. It's also good to know all the back ways into the track, so you can avoid the traffic and not get lost. It's also better when you win, because you can share the experience with your family and friends.
"One common misconception is that we have a significant advantage in terms of knowing the racetrack. We really don't know more than our competitors, for several reasons. Not only is the surface preparation different between testing and a national event, but there are also so many teams that test here that the tuning data is not a secret. "
Facts on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Racing Team entering the Summit Racing Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac:
* KJ at Atlanta Dragway: This will be Kurt's 12th appearance at Atlanta Dragway, where he has one win (in 1996) in three final round appearances, and a 17-10 elimination round record for a .630 winning percentage.
* One year ago: Kurt qualified third with an elapsed time of 6.840 seconds and a top speed of 202.67 mph, and advanced to the quarter-finals, where he fell to his father (and eventual race winner) Warren Johnson.
* Winning percentage: Kurt's .642 elimination round winning percentage (354-197) ranks 10th among all active NHRA professional drivers.
* National event wins: Kurt's 28 national event victories ties him for 14th on the all-time NHRA professional win list, and tie him for fourth on the all-time Pro Stock win list. Kurt's most recent win came at this year's Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals in Phoenix, AZ.
* Career best elapsed time: 6.716 seconds, Englishtown, NJ. 2003
* Career best top speed: 206.61 mph, Englishtown, NJ. 2003