When Kurt Johnson closed out last season with back-to-back victories in Dallas and Pomona, Calif., his fast finish propelled him to second place in the Pro Stock championship. When K.J. returns to the Texas Motorplex for this weekend's NHRA ...
When Kurt Johnson closed out last season with back-to-back victories in Dallas and Pomona, Calif., his fast finish propelled him to second place in the Pro Stock championship. When K.J. returns to the Texas Motorplex for this weekend's NHRA O'Reilly Fall Nationals as the defending champion, he knows that only a return to the winner's circle can redeem his season.
Johnson won in Dallas as a rookie racer in 1993, defeating his father, Warren, in the final round. He beat Robert Patrick in 1995 and upset newly crowned champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. last year. Now K.J. finds himself without a victory since the season-opening Winternationals -- a 20-race drought that he hopes to break at the series' only all-concrete track.
"I've never tried so hard and not won," Kurt declared. "Maybe we're trying too hard. One way or another, we're going to get this ACDelco Cavalier back in the winner's circle.
"We're on the verge of winning," K.J. asserted. "We had the quickest car on race day in Memphis and we set the national records in Chicago. We improved both the car's and the driver's reaction times this week in testing, and we've got five fresh motors. Preparation is everything, and we're prepared."
Johnson is undaunted by the Texas supertrack's notoriously narrow racing groove.
"This Cavalier drives better than any car I've raced," he explained. "If you get it crossed up, you just give it some steering wheel and it comes right back. It doesn't bother me to race at the Motorplex. I've always done well there."
Johnson is currently seventh in the Winston standings, but he is only 74 points out of third place. K.J. has finished in the Top Five for eight straight years, and he is determined to extend that streak.
"It's going to go right down to the last race," he predicted. "I've been in pressure situations before and pulled it off.
"We're going to have to make our own breaks," Johnson continued. "We're going to have to make 24 perfect runs in the last three races. That's all there is to it."
The message is clear: Kurt Johnson is ready to take on Texas with willpower as well as horsepower. <pre> KURT JOHNSON'S TEXAS MOTORPLEX RECORD: Year Qual. Result 1993 6 Winner (over W. Johnson) 1994 5 Semi Final 1995 6 Winner (over Patrick) 1996 15 Runner-up (to Yates) 1997 Spring 11 Second Round 1997 Fall 1 Second Round 1998 Spring 5 Runner-up (to Edwards) 1998 Fall 5 Second Round 1999 Spring 2 Semi Finals 1999 Fall 4 First Round 2000 Spring 1 First Round 2000 Fall 2 Winner (over J. Coughlin)