Denver: Kurt Johnson climbs the mountain

DENVER - Kurt Johnson struck gold in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains today when he scored his 16th career national event victory at the NHRA Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. Johnson defeated three-time Pro Stock ...

DENVER - Kurt Johnson struck gold in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains today when he scored his 16th career national event victory at the NHRA Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. Johnson defeated three-time Pro Stock champion Darrell Alderman in the final round, 7.356/188.04 to 7.375/186.28. The 37-year-old driver of the ACDelco Camaro has now has won an NHRA national event for six consecutive seasons.

"Things couldn't have been any better since we left Atlanta," Johnson said. "The car ran well all weekend. I was the low qualifier on Saturday night, and the car was fast enough to keep lane choice today. I made four good runs and my driving got better every round. Everything went right today - it was perfect!"

Johnson made a fast start at the high-altitude track, claiming the No. 1 qualifying spot for the third time this season and the 18th time in his career. K.J.'s Z28 stopped the clocks at 7.339 seconds, a heartbeat ahead of his father Warren's Firebird. It was the fourth time this year and the 28th race overall that the Johnsons have qualified 1-2.

K.J. defeated Scott Geoffrion in the first round with a 7.284-second run, the quickest e.t. of the event, and dispatched Troy Coughlin in the second round. A foul start by Ron Krisher in the semi-final round ended his three-race hot streak and advanced Johnson to his 31st career final-round appearance.

"It's been a struggle," said Johnson after he defeated Alderman and broke a year-long dry spell. "In the first part of the year the car was fast on occasion but not consistent. This time the car was consistent all weekend."

Johnson's victory vaulted him from sixth to fourth in the championship standings. The next stop on the NHRA "Western Swing" is Seattle International Raceway, where Kurt will defend his Prolong Northwest Nationals Pro Stock title on July 28-30. Johnson scored his first NHRA victory in Seattle as a rookie racer in 1993, and has won twice at SIR in four final-round appearances.

<pre> KURT JOHNSON RACE RESULTS: Qualifying: Kurt Johnson qualified No.1 at 7.339, 187.81 Eliminations: First Round: Kurt Johnson (7.284/189.07) defeated Scott Geoffrion (7.427, 185.77) Second Round: Kurt Johnson (7.314/188.44) defeated Troy Coughlin (7.349, 186.69) Semi-Final: Kurt Johnson (7.337/188.23) defeated Ron Krisher (foul) Final Round: Kurt Johnson (7.356/188.04) defeated Darrell Alderman (7.375/186.28)

Low ET: Kurt Johnson, 7.284 seconds Top Speed: Warren Johnson, 189.20 mph

POINTS RACE: (After 12 of 23 events) Driver Wins Points 1. Jeg Coughlin Jr. 6 1,027 2. Ron Krisher 2 838 3. Warren Johnson 1 783 4. Kurt Johnson 1 701 5. Troy Coughlin 0 667

NEXT RACE: Prolong Northwest Nationals, July 28-30, Seattle TV: ESPN2, July 30, 7-9 p.m. (ET)

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Ron Krisher , Scott Geoffrion