KJ Battles to 14th Starting Spot in Atlanta Entering his second national event with his new ACDelco Chevrolet Cobalt, Kurt Johnson knew he would need to accelerate his learning curve in order to successfully qualify for Sunday's final ...
KJ Battles to 14th Starting Spot in Atlanta
Entering his second national event with his new ACDelco Chevrolet Cobalt, Kurt Johnson knew he would need to accelerate his learning curve in order to successfully qualify for Sunday's final eliminations of the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals in Commerce, GA. Further complicating his assignment was the changing weather, which went from very hot and humid on Friday to drier and cooler conditions on Saturday, when the final session was delayed by over an hour by a mid-afternoon rain shower.
Through it all, Johnson's crew kept working to find the right tune-up, culminating with a 6.789-second, 204.23 mph pass on Friday night, which would earn them the 14th starting position for Sunday's final eliminations.
"We had a heck of a day today, but we still learned something about what this car needs to run," said Johnson. "We knew this particular ACDelco Cobalt has a lot of bite in it, which is what helped it get down the questionable racing surface in Bristol two weeks ago, and we confirmed it this morning when it shook the tires. Fortunately, we were able to make a good run on Friday night to guarantee our spot in the show. Now, it's just a matter of detuning it for eliminations."
However, this did not prove to be Johnson's most memorable run in qualifying. Immediately after launching on his final attempt on Saturday afternoon, Johnson's car shot directly towards the center line, forcing him to veer to the left to avoid hitting the starting line "Christmas Tree". An inspection of the car afterwards revealed that a problem in the fuel system had produced a leak, which left a small amount directly in front of the right rear tire, causing it to lose traction.
"We made a few adjustments and were all set up to make a good run this afternoon," said Johnson. "Unfortunately, we had a glitch in the fuel system where the fitting was tight, but the tubing wasn't seated, which caused it to leak. It was a pretty hairy ride for a minute, because I didn't know what was happening, except the tree was coming up fast and I needed to get out of there."
Despite the scare, Johnson remained optimistic about his chances for race day.
"I think we can do some damage tomorrow if we can get this ACDelco Cobalt to go down the race track, making clean runs from point A to point B," opined Johnson. "We're confident of being able to run with our competitors, and felt we could have been the No. 1 qualifier instead of Dad (six-time Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson, who captured his 133 No. 1 qualifying position.) We just had a bad day. Fortunately, we'll take all that information and put it together for four runstomorrow."