Joliet: Kurt Johnson preview

Kurt Johnson is ready to wrap up the "spring swing" with a win. ACDelco Cavalier driver looks forward to celebrating at home with his family. SUGAR HILL, GA., May 27, 2003 - This weekend, the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series makes its way to...

Kurt Johnson is ready to wrap up the "spring swing" with a win.
ACDelco Cavalier driver looks forward to celebrating at home with his family.

SUGAR HILL, GA., May 27, 2003 - This weekend, the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series makes its way to Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, IL for the Lucas Oil Route 66 Nationals. This event will complete a period in which the straight-line contingent will have run three races in as many weeks. It is the first true test of a team's championship mettle, as both positive and negative results can easily multiply during this compacted part of the schedule.

Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco racing team continue to stake their claim for the 2003 title, as their Cavalier remains among the top performers in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock category, with three wins and five final round appearances in the first nine races. Fresh off a runner-up performance in Topeka, Johnson arrives in the Land of Lincoln aware of the demands created by this hectic racing trifecta, and both he and his crew are fully prepared to handle them.

"Any way you look at it, racing on three consecutive weekends is tough," opined Johnson. "Fortunately, we're in a better position than most of our competitors. Our ACDelco Cavalier has been performing well, the crew is really clicking, and we're going rounds on a consistent basis, which certainly makes it easier.

"The hardest part of these back-to-back races is being away from your family. Between traveling and working on the car, you barely have time to go home, unpack and do the laundry before you're getting ready to leave again. It's the one part of racing that you never get used to, but you learn to live with it. For example, we have a weekend off after this race that we're all looking forward to, but our focus right now is on winning in Joliet."

One factor that may lessen the team's list of concerns is the site of this weekend's race. Route 66 Raceway has been hailed as one of the sport's top facilities since joining the NHRA tour in 1998. Located in Joliet, IL, the unique horseshoe design of the tower and grandstands offers fans a distinctive view of the on-track action, while the racing surface draws praise from the competitors, including K.J., who currently holds the track elapsed time and top speed records.

"I've always enjoyed racing at Route 66 Raceway," stated Johnson. "The racing surface is pretty good, and you can't say enough about the overall facility, which is one of the best on the circuit.

"Although we're still looking for our first win in Joliet, it's a track where we seem to run well. We had one of our better showings there last fall, advancing to the semi-finals. We actually felt like we could have won that race, as we lost by only a couple thousandths. The way our ACDelco Cavalier has been running this year, we're looking forward to going back. I'm ready for a win."

Facts on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Racing Team entering the Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals:

* KJ in Joliet: This will be Kurt's eighth appearance at Route 66 Raceway, where he has two semi-final finishes. In addition, he was the No.1 qualifier twice, in 1999 and at the fall race of 2001.

* Route 66 Raceway Record Holder: Kurt holds both ends of the Route 66 Raceway track record at 6.801 seconds and 202.70 mph, which he set in September of 2001.

* Traveling in Elite Company: Kurt's 26 national event victories tie him with legendary Pro Stock driver Lee Shepherd for 15th on the all-time NHRA professional win list, and fifth in the Pro Stock Career Victories. Kurt's most recent win came at last month's Mac Tools NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, TN.

* POWERade Points standings: After the ninth of 23 events, Kurt is in second place with 779 points, 31 behind current leader Greg Anderson, and 103 ahead of his father, Warren Johnson, who is in third. Kurt finished sixth in 2002, his tenth consecutive Top 10 finish.

* One year ago: Kurt qualified 15th with an elapsed time of 6.896 seconds and a top speed of 200.23 mph, but fell in the first round.

* Winning percentage: Kurt's .639 elimination round winning percentage (321-181) ranks 11th among all active NHRA professional drivers.

* Career best elapsed time: 6.716 seconds, Englishtown, NJ, 2003

* Career best top speed: 206.61 mph, Englishtown, NJ, 2003


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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson