Las Vegas II: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ Aims for a Dual-Purpose Win in Las Vegas; ACDelco Cobalt crew preps for strong showing at sponsor's race Sugar Hill, Ga., October 28, 2008 -- As the National Hot Rod Association makes its way to the Nevada desert for its second visit...

KJ Aims for a Dual-Purpose Win in Las Vegas; ACDelco Cobalt crew preps for strong showing at sponsor's race

Sugar Hill, Ga., October 28, 2008 -- As the National Hot Rod Association makes its way to the Nevada desert for its second visit to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team know they have some work to do. Faced with a 74-point deficit in the fight for this year's POWERade Pro Stock championship, they must find a way to close the gap during the last two races of the 2008 season. Further adding to the challenge is the fact that this weekend's ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals will be the second event of the year carrying Johnson's sponsor's name. As can be expected, the team will need very little help in finding inspiration to excel.

"The bottom line is that we need to win this race for ACDelco and to keep ourselves in the running for the championship," stated Johnson. "Motivation will certainly not be a problem, because we always give 110% at our sponsor's races. It's not that we try any harder than we do at the other races on the schedule, it's just that we are so determined to do well in front of the people who support us and make this all possible.

"On top of that, we're still striving to win the championship. We have some ground to make up and two races to do it in, so we will need to be perfect. In looking at the results from the last ten races, I noticed that in eight of them the person who put us on the trailer ended up winning the race. What that tells me is that if we do our jobs to the best of our abilities, we should be able to put ourselves in a position to win these last two races, starting this weekend in Las Vegas."

One factor working in Johnson's favor is his record of previous success on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With two wins in five final round appearances in his previous appearances at the desert, Johnson is one of only three Pro Stock drivers to have scored multiple visits to the winner's circle in the Silver State, including at this event in 2005. Therefore, he heads into the weekend optimistic about his chances.

"I think we have finally gotten to the point where we are comfortable racing in Las Vegas," said Johnson. "We've been to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on numerous occasions both for national events and testing, and our ACDelco Cobalt has made it to the winner's circle there twice. As a result, we should be able to go out and attack the track, being aggressive from the very start.

"Historically, the right lane has had some issues. Ironically, we won this race out of the right lane in 2005, but that was a while ago, so we'll have to see what we have this weekend. However, as with any of the Bruton Smith-owned tracks, I don't anticipate any real problems. More than anything, we need to be at our best from the start, taking advantage of whatever the track will give us. This is a big weekend for us, and we need to make the most of the opportunity."

KJ Autograph Signing: KJ and WJ will be among numerous NHRA drivers signing autographs during the NHRA Vegas-Style Fanfest, which will be held on Thursday, October 30 from 6:00 -- 8:00 p.m. at the 3rd Street Section of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas.

Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt Racing team

By the Numbers -- ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals edition:

1 -- No. 1 qualifying performances by KJ at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway entering this weekend, which occurred in 2002.

2 - Career wins by Kurt at LVMS entering this weekend, most recently in the 2006 spring race.

5 -- Final round appearances by KJ in Vegas entering this weekend.

6 -- Number of finishes in the semifinals or better by Kurt in his previous 15 starts in Nevada.

6.559 -- KJ's career best elapsed time (in seconds) coming into this event, recorded three weeks ago in Richmond, VA.

6.79 -- KJ's average starting position in his previous 15 Vegas starts.

9 - Top half starts by Kurt in his previous eight starts at The Strip.

14 -- Consecutive years in which Kurt has won at least one national event, the longest active streak in Pro Stock.

210.11 - KJ's career best top speed (in mph) coming into this event recorded three weeks ago in Richmond, VA.

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson