Joliet: Kurt Johnson preview

Kurt Johnson is Ready for a Clutch Performance in Chicago ACDelco crew preps their Cobalt for double duty at Route 66 Raceway Sugar Hill, Ga., June 6, 2005 -- As ACDelco Cobalt driver Kurt Johnson will readily tell you, the formula for...

Kurt Johnson is Ready for a Clutch Performance in Chicago
ACDelco crew preps their Cobalt for double duty at Route 66 Raceway

Sugar Hill, Ga., June 6, 2005 -- As ACDelco Cobalt driver Kurt Johnson will readily tell you, the formula for winning an NHRA Pro Stock race in the POWERade Drag Racing Series is a combination of many elements involving every member of the team. It starts even before they even leave their shop, as they mix between-race maintenance with research and development, while simultaneously studying their notes from previous races in order to formulate a plan of attack for the upcoming event.

Once at the track, the condition of the racing surface becomes another variable, with adjustments made to compensate for any changes. In addition, information is gathered on every run, including the on-board data acquisition system as well as videotapes, leading to further fine-tuning. Finally, the driver must do his job, making sure to leave the starting line on time, hitting the shift points and keeping the car in the groove. With the difference between winning and losing often measured in ten-thousandths of a second, any lapse in this procedure is crucial.

Entering this weekend's Carquest Auto Parts Nationals in Joliet, IL, Johnson acknowledges the complexity of the assignment, but is confident in his team's ability to meet the challenge.

"As close as the competition has gotten, everything has to be perfect in order to win an NHRA Pro Stock race," explained Johnson. "For example, some days you do your job and the car lets you down, while other times, the car is on its game but the driver isn't. To put yourself in a position to get the trophy, you have to have it all.

"Obviously, if you leave the starting line first, you have a better chance of winning. Quite honestly, so far this year, we've been inconsistent. For example, in Atlanta, we were right on, while in Topeka we couldn't buy a light. It's an area we continue to work on.

"Of course, we've had to adjust to two different race cars and four different clutch combinations, which hasn't made it any easier, especially when you're facing people who have been using the same package for two years. We know we have the performance under the hood to get the job done, so we keep working on dialing in our ACDelco Cobalt, and I think we'll have something for them this weekend in Chicago."

As if the potential of scoring their 29th career national event win was not motivation enough for Johnson and his crew, this weekend's race offers additional incentive, as the Pro Stock King Demon Crown will be included in the weekend's activities at Route 66 Raceway. This all-star event, which pits the eight top qualifying "factory hot rods" from the last year in a three-round race for $50,000, will be held on Saturday as part of qualifying. With three previous wins in this dash for cash, and armed with an extremely fast race car, KJ is more than ready for the weekend to begin.

"I feel optimistic about our chances at Route 66 Raceway," said Johnson. "Our ACDelco Cobalt has been running extremely well, and with a few minor exceptions, we've been doing a good job as a team. We know what this car needs, and have some good notes on the race track, having won there in the past. We know we should be able to get into the winner's circle -- it's just a matter of doing it.

"Our game plan is to get the car solidly in the show on Friday, so we can concentrate on winning the Demon on Saturday. We've won it in the past with the Cutlass, the Camaro and the Cavalier, so it's time to complete the set with this new Cobalt. After that, we'll set our sights on doubling up on Sunday and taking home the money and the trophies. We're pretty confident that we can do some damage, so we're looking forward to our weekend in Chicago."

Notes on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team entering

the Carquest Auto Parts Nationals:

* KJ in Chicago: This will be Kurt's 12th appearance at Route 66 Raceway, where he has one win in 2003, and two No. 1 qualifying performances in 1999 & 2001.

* Kurt in the King Demon: This will be KJ's 12th appearance in the King Demon Crown, where he has three victories in 1994, 1998 and 2003, tying him with his father, Warren Johnson and Larry Morgan for the most wins in the event's 20-year history.

* One year ago: Kurt qualified 14th with an elapsed time of 6.864 seconds and a top speed of 202.61 mph and advanced to the quarterfinals.

* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.671 sec., Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05

* Career best top speed: 207.13 mph, Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05


Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Larry Morgan