KJ's Up and Down Day Places Him Second in Chicago Kurt Johnson entered the second day of qualifying for the Carquest Auto Parts Nationals with two specific goals. First, the ACDelco Cobalt pilot wanted to improve his starting position from ...
KJ's Up and Down Day Places Him Second in Chicago
Kurt Johnson entered the second day of qualifying for the Carquest Auto Parts Nationals with two specific goals. First, the ACDelco Cobalt pilot wanted to improve his starting position from Friday by one spot in order to capture the 24th No. 1 qualifying position of his NHRA career. Second, he looked to score his fourth win in the King Demon Crown, the annual Pro Stock all-star race pitting the top eight qualifiers from the previous year.
Facing rival and provisional No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson in the opening round of the special event, Johnson put himself in a good position to accomplish both items, combining a nearly-perfect .001 reaction time with a lighting-fast 6.769-second, 204.08 mph pass to trailer Anderson, who had come in as the No. 1 seed. This not only advanced KJ to the semifinals of the $50,000 race, but also ascended him to the No. 1 qualifying position for Sunday's final eliminations.
Unfortunately, the next round would not be as kind. First, he encountered speed-robbing tire shake in his run against David Connolly, slowing him to a 6.835-second elapsed time and allowing his opponent to narrowly edge him at the finish line. Moments later, Johnson's father recorded a 6.762-second pass to claim the top starting position, with Kurt slotted in the second position.
Despite the initial disappointment, the Johnson crew quickly realized that it had been a productive day, and that they had put themselves in a good position to claim their 29th NHRA national event win.
"Naturally, we're disappointed that we didn't win the Demon, but, in the overall picture, it's been a good day. We leave tonight knowing we have an ACDelco Cobalt that can win the race tomorrow.
"Unfortunately, things just didn't work out for us today. The way this car is set up is entirely new since we replaced quite a few components in the back before we came here. I guess we've still got a few things to learn. It looked good on the first run yesterday afternoon, was a little slow in the evening session, and shone brightly on the first run today.
"We just never figured it would react the way it did this afternoon. It was ugly. It just locked the clutch up and spun and shook, slowing us down by seven hundredths and costing us the race. But that's behind us now. Today's performance put us in a very good position for tomorrow's final eliminations. We'll take a look at our notes, see what we need to do and get it hooked up. The bottom line is that if we all do our jobs, it will be our day."