KJ's Winning Week Ends in the Englishtown Semi-Finals ACDelco Cavalier pilot Kurt Johnson entered Sunday's final eliminations of the NHRA Supernationals in Englishtown, NJ on quite a roll. The day before his arrival in the Garden State, KJ had...
KJ's Winning Week Ends in the Englishtown Semi-Finals
ACDelco Cavalier pilot Kurt Johnson entered Sunday's final eliminations of the NHRA Supernationals in Englishtown, NJ on quite a roll. The day before his arrival in the Garden State, KJ had won a Pro Stock invitational event in Budds Creek, MD. He followed that performance by setting new career marks in both elapsed time and top speed in qualifying fourth for Sunday's final eliminations. His string of successes continued on Saturday, as he captured the $50,000 Pro Stock Challenge.
However, the ACDelco crew's primary focus remained on capturing their fourth national event win, and preserving their position atop the POWERade points standings. After defeating David Northrop and Allen Johnson in the first two rounds, KJ was paired against rival Greg Anderson in the semi-finals in a meeting of two of the top contenders for the 2003 championship.
Anderson had made news of his own during the weekend, as he used the quickest and fastest pass in Pro Stock history to claim the No. 1 position in qualifying, and bettered that mark with a 6.670-second, 207.18 mph run in his second round victory. Therefore, even though he had defeated Anderson in the finals of both the Maryland race the Pro Stock challenge, Johnson knew a perfect run would be necessary to advance to his fifth final round of the season.
Determined to win, Johnson used an outstanding .012 reaction time to gain the advantage by nearly five hundredths of a second. However, he soon found himself fighting to maintain control of his race car, which was suffering from speed-robbing tire shake. Despite his best efforts, Johnson slowed to a 7.551-second elapsed time, allowing his opponent to edge him at the finish line.
"That was definitely a wild ride. We really used up the tires and the asphalt trying to get there first. I didn't see Greg out the window, so I stabbed the throttle near the end, and it got really crazy and he was able to get by. Even though we had the extra $25,000 incentive (paid to the driver winning both the Pro Stock Challenge and Sunday's event), we wanted to win today's race for the points.
"We had burned the clutch up in the second round running a 6.72, and we stepped on it for the semis. Unfortunately, the track was not as good as we thought it was. There had to be something wrong with the surface, because this car has never shaken the tires as hard as it did on that run, and three of the four cars in the semis didn't make it down the track.
"It's really unfortunate, because we had five hundredths on him at the tree, and we only needed a 6.87 to beat him. We probably could have left it alone and been fine, but when he ran that 6.67 in the second round and got lane choice, we had to get after it a little bit. We even considered changing motors. We were confident our ACDelco Cavalier had a 6.68 or 6.69 in it, but the track just wouldn't hold it.
"But we still can't be upset with a third place finish. I felt like I drove well all weekend, with good lights on almost even run. We'll go back to the shop in Sugar Hill, make a little power, and go try to win in Topeka."