LAS VEGAS, Oct. 28, 2009 -- A two-week break in the 24-event NHRA Full Throttle schedule has given Kurt Johnson's ACDelco team time to regroup and prepare for the next contest on the tour -- the 9th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals on Oct. 29 --...
LAS VEGAS, Oct. 28, 2009 -- A two-week break in the 24-event NHRA Full Throttle schedule has given Kurt Johnson's ACDelco team time to regroup and prepare for the next contest on the tour -- the 9th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals on Oct. 29 -- Nov. 1 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Johnson and his crew certainly have a lot to build on. The performance of the ACDelco Chevrolet at the series' last event in Richmond, Va., was impressive, to say the least, and yielded a No. 2 qualifying effort, and career-best numbers in elapsed time and speed for the veteran Pro Stock driver.
"That kind of performance builds confidence and puts you right back in the game," Johnson said of his career-best run at Richmond. "But we need to run like that in every session, and unfortunately, that kind of consistency has been missing this year. At Richmond, we gradually improved during every qualifying round, took what the race track and the weather were willing to give us, and capitalized on the situation. Our 60-foot times were solid and we pushed to within a hundredth (of a second) of the top spot. We're still lacking a little bit of the consistency that you need on race day -- tire shake has been an issue at the last two races -- but we'll have four qualifying rounds in Las Vegas to dial it in."
Johnson has entered 18 national events at The Strip since the NHRA returned to the Nevada desert in 2000, and the Bruton Smith-owned facility is a venue where the veteran driver has experienced his share of success over the years. During a four-season stretch between 2003 and '06, Johnson's ACDelco Chevrolet advanced to the final round at least once each year, winning back to back at the fall contest in 2005, where he defeated Greg Anderson in the finals, and the spring race in 2006 in which Dave Connolly was his title-round opponent. Johnson was runner-up at both contests in 2003, and in the spring of '04, and he was No. 1 qualifier at the October 2002 race.
"It doesn't matter if it's April or October, this is one of those special places where everyone likes to come to," Johnson said. "Las Vegas is a terrific city to bring clients and customers, and The Strip has been one of those race tracks where we've had good luck and hit the jackpot a couple of times. This is a great place to race, and it's too bad we only come here twice a year "
Only two races remain on the 2009 docket and Johnson is looking to close out the year on a high note with a final surge that would solidify a strong finish in the Full Throttle Pro Stock standings.
"With our place in the championship picture already determined, we're going to Las Vegas and Pomona with the attitude that we have nothing to lose," Johnson said. "First and foremost we want to win. We want to run competitively at the top of the qualifying page on Friday and Saturday, and then turn that into a win on Sunday. Obviously we're going to be racing in entirely different conditions from what we had in Virginia. The elevation, for one thing, will be considerably higher, but we have a good book on The Strip, and we'll be prepared. Don't bet against us."