A Somber KJ Pops Up in Englishtown Quarterfinals Like most of the competitors at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team were understandably subdued entering Sunday's final eliminations of the Lucas Oil...
A Somber KJ Pops Up in Englishtown Quarterfinals
Like most of the competitors at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team were understandably subdued entering Sunday's final eliminations of the Lucas Oil NHRA Supernationals following the tragic loss of former Top Fuel Champion Scott Kalitta the day before. However, the racers decided the best way to follow their fallen comrade was to put on a great show for the capacity crowd.
Starting second, Johnson opened in fine fashion, using the second-quickest pass of the round at 6.650-seconds to eliminate Vinnie Deceglie in the first round. Things started according to plan in the second round, when KJ used a quick .024 reaction time to gain the advantage by almost two hundredths of a second on starting-line specialist David Connolly.
Unfortunately, just as it seemed he would advance to the semifinals for the seventh time in eleven races, a freak malfunction in the transmission slowed him just enough to allow his opponent to edge him at the line by four thousandths of a second. Despite the disappointment at his premature exit, Johnson took some solace in that he would maintain the lead in the POWERade championship standings, as well as maintaining the proper perspective given the events of the last 24 hours.
"With everything else going on, I really never thought about never having won here before, and actually went into eliminations thinking we were going to have a good day. Our ACDelco Cobalt was decent in the first round, but just popped out of gear in the second round. It was pretty rough out there, and the car was bouncing pretty good, which certainly didn't help. It had dead-headed a little going in, and maybe it just caught on a tooth and came back, I'm not really sure. I was able to push it back in, but it was enough for us to lose the race.
"But today was all about remembering Scott. I found it very hard to get myself up to race, because after yesterday nothing really seemed to matter. However, we owed it to the fans and his memory to put on a good show, so we did our very best to win.
'We were just off a little bit this weekend from where we were in Chicago. We were decent, but just not on our game. We're still in the points lead, but we're going to have to get to work."