Denver: Kurt Johnson preview

Kurt Johnson Focuses on Delivering in Denver ACDelco crew set to conquer the mountain at the Mile-High Nationals Sugar Hill, Ga., July 12, 2004 - The POWERade Drag Racing Series will kick off the second half of the 2004 season this weekend...

Kurt Johnson Focuses on Delivering in Denver

ACDelco crew set to conquer the mountain at the Mile-High Nationals

Sugar Hill, Ga., July 12, 2004 - The POWERade Drag Racing Series will kick off the second half of the 2004 season this weekend with the running of the Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO. This race will also mark the beginning of the NHRA's traditional "West Coast Swing", an annual three-race stretch where the straight-line set will compete on consecutive weekends at locations quite distant from each other.

Starting at Bandimere Speedway, the racers will travel to Seattle, WA before completing the triangle in Sonoma, CA. It is a challenging stretch, pushing competitors to the limit. As such, many view this as a crucial point in the chase for the championship. Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Racing team, however, see this race as simply another opportunity for success. Therefore, they will employ the same approach for this weekend that they have used all season.

"We attack every race with the same attitude, namely that we are going there to win," explained Johnson. "It doesn't really matter if it's the first of three in a row or the last of ten. The scenery may change, but the points and the payout are the same, and, as always, we're looking to end the day with the ACDelco Cavalier in the winner's circle."

Although the Johnson crew's philosophy in preparing for this race may remain the same, the way they set their race car up to handle Bandimere Speedway will be drastically different. The primary obstacle will be compensating for the thin air, which will rob the Pro Stock cars' carbureted engines of over 200 horsepower, which is roughly 20% of their output at sea level. It is a multi-faceted task, requiring changes to virtually every aspect of the race car.

"You have to get the set-up to the point that your car will put the numbers on the board," detailed Johnson. "That involves getting the engine and the gearing right, making the car happy. This year, we also have the addition of the new tire and wheel combination that we'll have to get used to, but it will be same for everyone.

"For some reason, certain people get overly concerned about racing in Denver. Throughout my career, however, I have chosen to attack the track, testing and trying ideas and components throughout qualifying and race day, which is the only time you really learn something. It's an approach that's worked well for us."

A review of Johnson's record in the Rockies shows the efficacy of his plan. In eleven previous visits to the Colorado quarter-mile, the second-generation racer has scored two wins in four final round appearances, with an overall .710 elimination round win record, one of several factors bolstering the team's confidence heading into the race.

"We're pretty optimistic about our chances this weekend, based on how we ran here a year ago, as well as Dad's (Six-time champion Warren Johnson) performance in testing," said Johnson. "He was near the top of the charts throughout the session, running consistently in the teens.

"We'll go over his notes, see what he did, what adjustments he made and how well they worked. We'll combine that with our own tuning notes from the past to come up with a game plan that we will use for our ACDelco Cavalier. In the two weeks since our last race, we've been working around the clock, focusing on making ourselves better, so we're looking for good things to happen this weekend in Denver."

Facts on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Racing Team entering the Mile-High Nationals:

* Kurt knows the way to the top of the mountain: This will be Kurt's 12th appearance at Bandimere Speedway, where he has two wins (in 1995 & 2000) in four final round appearances and one No. 1 qualifying performance in 2000.

* One year ago: Kurt qualified second with an elapsed time of 7.227 seconds and a top speed of 190.51 mph, and advanced to the quarter-finals.

* Winning percentage: Kurt's .646 elimination round winning percentage (370-203) ranks 10th among all active NHRA professional drivers.

* National event wins: Kurt's 28 national event victories ties him for 14th on the all-time NHRA professional win list, and tie him for fourth on the all-time Pro Stock win list. Kurt's most recent win came at this year's Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals in Phoenix, AZ.

* Career best elapsed time: 6.716 seconds, Englishtown, NJ. 2003

* Career best top speed: 206.61 mph, Englishtown, NJ. 2003


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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson