THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, Denver, July 20-22, 2001 Kurt Johnson Aims To Continue His Reign As King Of The Mountain In a season with more peaks and valleys than the Rocky Mountains, ...
THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco
Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, Denver, July 20-22, 2001
Kurt Johnson Aims To Continue His Reign As King Of The Mountain
In a season with more peaks and valleys than the Rocky Mountains, Kurt Johnson is about to take on drag racing's version of Mount Everest -- the appropriately named Thunder Mountain, the home of Bandimere Speedway and the site of the upcoming Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Johnson is aiming to rekindle the magic on the mountain that produced three victories in four races last season and propelled him from sixth to second in the Winston championship.
It's deja vu all over again for the driver of the ACDelco Cavalier. Johnson is again sixth in the standings after a midseason slump that sent him reeling in the points race. Now on the road to recovery, Johnson qualified second at the Pep Boys NHRA 50th Anniversary Nationals, ran the top speed of the event (his sixth of the season), and posted a semi-final round finish. Recharged by his first success in eliminations since April, K.J. is primed to reprise his race-winning performance last year at Bandimere.
Johnson was the king of the hill one year ago at the Mile-High Nationals, where he was the No. 1 qualifier, ran the quickest elapsed time of the event and defeated Dodge Boy Darrell Alderman in the final.
So can K.J. do it again?
"We have a fast race car again," Johnson said, "and if the driver does his job, we're in position to win races.
"The only car I fear is that black Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac," K.J. conceded with a nod toward his father Warren, who leads the Winston standings after 14 of 24 races.
An impromptu test session at Bandimere Speedway last week bolstered Kurt's confidence as he prepared for the rarified air of the Front Range. "We didn't plan to test in Denver, but we made good time getting there from California and I had a few hours before my plane flight back to Atlanta. I squeezed in five runs in four hours, with a best of 7.31 and every pass over 188 mph. I was quicker than everyone else who tested that day, so it looks like we've got a good baseline for Bandimere.
"The starting line at Bandimere just gets better and better," Kurt reported. "You can throw everything you've got at it without shaking the tires. It's going to be a driver's race."
With the elation of a victory in the season-opening AutoZone Winternationals followed by a disappointing string of early exits and DNQs, Johnson has certainly experienced the highs and lows of life on the NHRA circuit. Kurt and his ACDelco teammates intend to start their climb back to the top with another peak performance on Thunder Mountain. <pre> KURT JOHNSON'S MILE-HIGH NATIONALS RECORD Year Qual. Result 1993 7 Second Round 1994 5 First Round 1995 7 Winner (over Yates) 1996 4 Second Round 1997 3 Runner-up (to Yates) 1998 2 Semi Final 1999 3 Semi-Final 2000 1 Winner (over Alderman)
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