Kurt Johnson Wins His Second Pro Stock Title of '99 in Houston in First All-Camaro Final Since 1987 HOUSTON, Texas; April 11, 1999: When Mike Edwards arrived at the O'Reilly Nationals in Houston, the fourth event of the 1999 NHRA ...
Kurt Johnson Wins His Second Pro Stock Title of '99 in Houston in First All-Camaro Final Since 1987
HOUSTON, Texas; April 11, 1999: When Mike Edwards arrived at the O'Reilly Nationals in Houston, the fourth event of the 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series, he was still struggling to get his new Dewco Sales Camaro Z28 raceworthy following three national events in which he could not qualify. When he left town, his spirits were higher and his scorecard had a couple of new notations. Not only did be beat four-time Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson in the semifinals, he came awfully close to taking out Warren's son Kurt Johnson, in his ACDelco Camaro, in the first all-Camaro Pro Stock final since 1987. But Kurt prevailed, winning his second Pro Stock title of the 1999 season and extended his points lead in this very competitive class. Edwards had a slight advantage at the starting lights (a .430 reaction time to Kurt's .465), but the legendary Johnson power brought Kurt's Camaro home first across the line with an elapsed time of 6.969 seconds at 199.14 mph. The final round for Edwards, who had qualified No. 12, was the slowest of final eliminations, a 7.009-second pass at 197.77 mph. Edwards, of Broken Arrow, Okla., defeated Ron Krisher with a 6.976, Richie Stevens with a 6.972, and Warren Johnson with a 7.006. Kurt took the title with a five thousandths-of-a-second margin of victory. Kurt ousted John Nobile, Mark Pawuk and Mike Trumble en route to the final round. "I saw him for a little way," said No. 3 qualifier Johnson, of Sugar Hill, Ga. "I kind of turned my head so I wouldn't see him, but he was ahead by about three hundredths (of a second) at the thousand-foot mark. I'm not one to look over and see what's going on over there. I had my best light of the day in the final, a .465, which is close to average. It's not great, but it's good enough to win." Edwards defeated Warren Johnson on a holeshot advantage in the semis with a .453 reaction time to Warren's .506, good enough for the win. "I didn't really expect it," said Edwards. "When you are running him you know you are at a disadvantage, that's why we pull up there and race. You know you've got a chance. We got lucky and got a good light. He didn't have such a good light. We beat him by two thousandths and then I got beat by Kurt by five thousandths. If I had another five thousandths I'd be there in the winner's circle. "Kurt was right there at the end," Edwards added. "That's where he got me. I really thought we had him. We made the worst run of the weekend that run. We should have run a 6.96 or .97. We knew we were capable of winning the race, we just didn't do it. I feel good about our progess. It's better than going home on Saturday night as we have been doing the last three races. Maybe we can build on this and get better." The last all-Camaro final came in Englishtown. N.J., when Jerry Eckman defeated Bruce Allen. This win marked the fourth Pro Stock title for the Camaro since Chevrolet returned to that class in 1998. It was also Kurt's 14th career win. In points, Kurt holds a strong lead over dad Warren (407-332). Jeg Coughlin Jr. is third with 274 points. The next event on the NHRA calendar is the Castrol Nationals at the Texas Motorplex in Dallas April 22-25.
FEDERAL MOGUL DRAG RACING SERIES
Tony Bartone, in the Quaker State/Roger Dean Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Funny Car, won his third Federal Mogul Funny Car title in Houston. He's on a roll: Four final round appearances in 1999, three wins.