KJ Charges to U.S. Nationals Semifinals, Climbs to Fourth in Championship Standings Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team overcame their share of obstacles on Monday to make their way to the semifinals of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals...
KJ Charges to U.S. Nationals Semifinals, Climbs to Fourth in Championship Standings
Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team overcame their share of obstacles on Monday to make their way to the semifinals of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN. After qualifying fifth for drag racing's biggest race, Johnson knew that maintaining lane choice would play a pivotal role in his attempt to score his third career national event win at O'Reilly Raceway Park.
Although things went according to plan in the opening stanza, when Johnson defeated Greg Stanfield with the fourth quickest pass of the round at 6.698-second, a noticeable drop off in his top speed indicated there were issues with his powerplant.
Quickly effecting repairs, he came back to eliminate Allen Johnson in the quarterfinals. However, his mechanical gremlins returned, slowing him to a 6.748-second time, which unfortunately ceded lane choice to rival Greg Anderson for their semifinal match-up.
With just over an hour between rounds, the ACDelco crew worked feverishly to change engines, finishing just in time to make it to the line. Running in the less-preferred right hand lane, Johnson was able to make a solid 6.749-second, 205.91 mph pass, but it was not enough to hold off his opponent's charge, who took advantage of the left hand side of the track to post a 6.719-second time and put an early end to Johnson's day. Still, Johnson's solid showing allowed him to climb two places in the POWERade Championship standings to fourth, giving him confidence heading into the season's final five races.
"We certainly had our share of challenges today. We burned a pushrod in the first round and dropped a valve in the second round, but still made it to the semifinals, so I guess you could say it was my lucky day. We did lose lane choice going into the semis, and that was probably a major factor in determining the outcome, because even though I put a thousandth on him in the last eighth mile, we didn't have the surface to get hooked up to in the first eighth, and that's where the race was won.
"Looking back at our weekend, our ACDelco Cobalt was exceptional in the first four qualifying sessions, and even though we had our issues with that right lane last night in the final session, it actually helped us make a decent run there in the semifinals. As for today, it's hard to say how the car was because of the mechanical issues, but the way it acted, I'd say it was decent. The big thing was that it didn't shake, which is something we've been fighting. The tires were spinning but that didn't stop us from going from A to B, which you can't do when the tires are all distorted.
"Still, anytime you can go from sixth to fourth in the points, and only be a point out of third, you've had a good day. We made some changes, and the car was better, so I think we're going to be good the rest of the year."