Dallas Kurt Johnson Preview

JOHNSON AT THE HEAD OF PRO STOCK CLASS HEADING TO TEXAS MOTORPLEX ENNIS, Texas -- Kurt Johnson is sitting atop the NHRA Winston Pro Stock standings after four races and he's really enjoying the view. His start to the 1999 season has been one...

JOHNSON AT THE HEAD OF PRO STOCK CLASS HEADING TO TEXAS MOTORPLEX

ENNIS, Texas -- Kurt Johnson is sitting atop the NHRA Winston Pro Stock standings after four races and he's really enjoying the view.

His start to the 1999 season has been one of the best the 36-year-old driver can remember during his seven year career. With victories at Phoenix and Houston, a runner-up finish at Gainesville, Fla. and semifinal finish at the season-opening AutoZone Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., Johnson has sprinted out to a 75-point lead in the Winston point standings.

Johnson, from Lawrenceville, Ga., hopes to advance to a fourth-straight final round appearance at the third annual Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts, April 22-25 at the Texas Motorplex and build on his Winston lead. The $1.5 million race is the fifth of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

"Everything has been real smooth and we've had a great start," Johnson said. "We've been fortunate to get in position to win a couple of races and we let one get away from us. But the important thing is that we're going to final rounds. That's what you have to do to win a Winston championship."

Johnson realizes it's a long season and many rounds need to be won before he can claim his first Winston championship. However, he has a strong history at the Texas Motorplex and likes his chances for a third victory.

"Dallas has always been good to me," Johnson said. "I've won there a couple of times and had some runner-ups there too. Some people seem to have problems there down track, but I've always felt real comfortable and had good success. You've got to make sure you keep the car in the groove. It's good going from Houston to Dallas because you're racing in just about the same conditions. We'll take the same setup we used at Houston to Dallas and hopefully we can do some damage there and get us another win."

And possibly a couple of records. Dallas may present conditions that are favorable for record-setting performances for Pro Stock competitors. Johnson's father, Warren, currently holds both ends of the Pro Stock record (6.866 seconds, 201.37 mph). Kurt says his AC Delco Chevrolet Camaro is capable of the same type of performance, possibly even quicker and faster.

"There's still a possibility for records to be set at the next three or four tracks, and then we'll get into the heat of summer," Johnson said. "If we have some cool weather at Dallas I'd expect to see a few records. Dallas is right up there at the top of my list of favorite tracks. It's a fun place to race and I wouldn't mind getting a trophy there and setting a record or two."

His dad's GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird has claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot at each of the four races so far, but Kurt has been the most consistent on race day. Kurt's runner-up finish at Gainesville came compliments of his father.

"We know we have equal power and can hold our own with dad," Kurt said. "The main thing is going out there and making good, consistent runs week after week. That's what we've been focusing on. There's a lot of cars out here that have real good power and can run some big speeds. It just comes down to the setup at that particular time of day when you get to race day. The driver has to be on and there's a lot of little items that have to be in place to make a winning run. If there's one or two things off just a little, you're on the trailer and out of the show."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson