His First Objective Reached, KJ Heads to Denver Targeting the Title Poised & prepared ACDelco Cobalt crew mines for NHRA gold in the Colorado Rockies Sugar Hill, Ga., July 11, 2006 -- Several months ago, at the start of this year's POWERade...
His First Objective Reached, KJ Heads to Denver Targeting the Title
Poised & prepared ACDelco Cobalt crew mines for NHRA gold in the Colorado Rockies
Sugar Hill, Ga., July 11, 2006 -- Several months ago, at the start of this year's POWERade Drag Racing season, ACDelco Cobalt pilot Kurt Johnson was among the many competitors eyeing a run at the 2006 Pro Stock championship. However, facing a 23-race title chase, this second-generation racer established additional objectives to gauge his performance along the way and validate his claim for the golden "Wally".
For example, one such benchmark came early in the season. After getting off to an uncharacteristically slow start in the first four races, he found himself outside of the Top Ten and facing a large points deficit. At that point he decided he would need to be in the Top Five by the midseason mark in order to have a realistic shot at the championship. With two wins in three final round appearances and two semi-final finishes in the next seven races, he easily accomplished this initial goal.
Now, as the stars of the straight-line travel to Denver, CO for the Mile-High Nationals and the start of the second half, Johnson and crew have challenged themselves with a formula to put them on top when their racing year draws to a close in November.
"We're pretty confident heading into the Mile-Highs," stated Johnson. "Over the last few races, everyone on the crew has been doing their job, our ACDelco Cobalt is telling us what it wants and responding to those changes and we're seeing the results on the racetrack.
"We had a huge win in Chicago, a runner-up finish in Topeka, and were one thousandth off the pole in St. Louis. If we can maintain that pace throughout the second half, averaging a semi-final or final round finish, we should be fine. Although we enter every race to win, realistically we know we won't win them all, but if we get our share, as well as have a little bit of luck go our way, I like our chances.
"There are a lot of good cars that still have a shot at the POWERade championship. It's going to be tough, and it might even come down to which side the coin lands on, but we're committed to coming out on top."
As the opening stop in both the second half of the season and the traditional three-race West Coast swing, Bandimere Speedway presents the competitors with its own unique challenges. Nestled in the side of the Rocky Mountains in the Denver suburb of Morrison, it sits at an altitude of 5,860 feet, where the lack of horsepower-producing oxygen cripples the carbureted Pro Stock Cars. Naturally, the key to success lies in adapting to the conditions, requiring a solid set of notes and a good handle on your race car. With two wins and four final round appearances in his previous trips to this scenic speedplant, Johnson is confident he has both areas handled, and is cautiously optimistic about continuing his championship charge.
"A lot is made of the conditions at Bandimere, but in reality, it's just like anywhere else," opined Johnson. "You have a starting line, a finish line, and win lights. We had a good test there a few weeks ago, so we should be in good shape. We found what direction not to go in, which will be helpful heading into this weekend. Hopefully, we can be strong from Q1 (the first qualifying session), put it on the pole or near the top and have lane choice for round one on Sunday. We'll start from there and work our way forward. We've won in Denver before, so we have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done. Now, it's a matter of doing it.
"We'd certainly like to get the second half off to a good start, but we're not putting any extra emphasis on any of these next three races. After all, they will neither make you nor break you. We've used the time since the St. Louis race to get everything ready, and have what we feel is a solid inventory of race motors ready to run. Our ACDelco Cobalt is fully prepared, the crew is focused on the task ahead, and we're ready to get the job done. I guess you could say we're ready to climb the mountain."