Kurt Johnson Phoenix Preview

Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, February 26-28, Phoenix, Ariz. TV: TNN, March 7, 12:00-1:30 p.m. Eastern and Pacific - check local listings KURT QUOTE "As long as I let the clutch out on time, ...

Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, February 26-28, Phoenix, Ariz. TV: TNN, March 7, 12:00-1:30 p.m. Eastern and Pacific - check local listings

KURT QUOTE

"As long as I let the clutch out on time, there's no reason we can't win one in Phoenix."

ANOTHER JOHNSON JINX?

Warren Johnson's travails at Firebird Raceway, site of the upcoming Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, have been well documented. W.J. finally won at Firebird in his 14th attempt, scoring his first national event victory in Phoenix at last year's event. Now the focus shifts to Warren's son, Kurt, who has been winless in six previous visits to the Phoenix quarter-mile.

Is the younger Johnson also "jinxed" at the track in the shadow of the Superstition Mountains? Firebird is one of only six tracks on the NHRA circuit where K.J. has never been in a final round in his six-year driving career. In 1993, he crashed at Firebird in his second race as a Pro Stock driver. In the last four years, he hasn't advanced past the second round in Phoenix.

"My ACDelco Camaro should be fast in Phoenix," Kurt declares. "The track seems to be a little better every time we race in Phoenix, and Pro Stocks can now run 6.90s regularly there. Firebird Raceway has a good starting line, but the trick is to keep the car hooked up all the way to the finish line. The track condition depends a lot on the weather; if the wind is blowing, we'll have to deal with sand and dust on the top end. As long as I let the clutch out on time, there's no reason we can't win one in Phoenix."

TUCSON TESTING

Kurt will prepare for the CSK Nationals with a marathon test session in Tucson. "We figure we'd better try some new suspension parts under our car," he reveals. "We have a new rearend housing and a different suspension setup that we want to test before we go to Phoenix.

"We lost to Jeg Coughlin in the semi-final round at the Winternationals because of tire shake, so we need to concentrate on solving that problem," Kurt comments. "My theory is that the rear tires are distorting in low gear and they can't recover, so the car starts to shake.

"We want to get the car to accelerate harder in the first ten feet of the run. Of course, if I knew exactly what was going on, I'd have fixed the tire shake a long time ago!"

KURT CRACKS 200 AGAIN

Kurt laid down a barrage of 200 mph runs in pre-season testing, and backed up his performance with a pair of 200 mph passes at the Winternationals. K.J. became only the second NHRA Pro Stock driver with more than one 200 mph run under his belt - but he has a long way to go to match his father's total of 29 runs at over 200 mph.

"I ran faster than 200 mph three runs in a row when we tested in Houston on the way to the Winternationals," Kurt reported. "Then we ran 200.02 and 200.11 in Pomona. It was a long drought since my first 200 mph pass in Gainesville almost a year ago. We've run 200 in testing, but it doesn't count when nobody else is there. It's good to do it again in front of everybody."

POMONA POST-RACE NOTES

* One-Two Punch: Warren and Kurt Johnson nailed down the top two qualifying spots at the season-opening AutoZone Winternationals. W.J. was the leader of the pack at 6.888/200.95, and Kurt was close behind at 6.925/200.02. The Johnsons monopolized the top of the qualifying list at six races in 1998. "When Dad has the only car that's quicker than mine, I can sleep at night," Kurt said.

* Crew News: James Reichard has joined Kurt's ACDelco crew for the 1999 campaign. Reichard, 25, works on the back half of Kurt's Camaro, preparing the tires and parachutes. He had three years of experience with an IHRA Pro Stock team and previously worked on an alcohol-burning Funny Car before signing on with Kurt.

KURT JOHNSON FIREBIRD RACEWAY RESULTS:

Year    Qualified    Result
1993    3            Semi-Final
1994    4            Semi-Final
1995    4            First Round
1996    13           First Round
1997    8            Second Round
1998    4            Second Round

LAST RACE: AutoZone Winternationals, Pomona, Calif., Feb. 7, 1999 Qualifying: Kurt Johnson qualified No. 2 at 6.925/200.02 mph Eliminations: Round 1: Kurt (6.938/200.11) defeated Ray Franks (7.016/198.17) Round 2: Kurt (6.980/198.93) defeated John Nobile (7.004/197.48) Semi-Final: Jeg Coughlin (6.919/198.99) defeated Kurt (11.719/76.02)

POINTS RACE: PRO STOCK STANDINGS (After 1 of 22 events) Driver Wins Points 1. Jeg Coughlin 1 114 2. Troy Coughlin 0 91 3. Kurt Johnson 0 77 4. Jim Yates 0 72 5. Warren Johnson 0 58

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Nobile , Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson