Las Vegas: Kurt Johnson preview

Kurt Johnson looks to double his winnings in Las Vegas. ACDelco Cavalier Racing team aims to repeat Gainesville success at Nationals. Sugar Hill, Ga., March 30, 2003 - Kurt Johnson is the most recent Pro Stock winner in the NHRA...

Kurt Johnson looks to double his winnings in Las Vegas.
ACDelco Cavalier Racing team aims to repeat Gainesville success at Nationals.

Sugar Hill, Ga., March 30, 2003 - Kurt Johnson is the most recent Pro Stock winner in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, having won the Mac Tools Gatornationals just two weeks ago. At that race, his ACDelco Cavalier was consistently among the quickest and fastest entries in an extremely competitive 45-car field, and propelled the younger member of the Johnson racing family to his 24th career national event win.

However, as Johnson is quick to point out, that stellar performance will have little impact on how he fares at this weekend's Nationals, so both he and his ACDelco crew will leave those pleasant memories behind as they head west to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"Although it certainly was nice to win in Gainesville, that doesn't mean we'll automatically get to the winner's circle in Las Vegas," said Johnson. "Therefore, our plan is to put that race behind us and start with a clean sheet.

"As soon as we got back to the shop, we started working on finding more power and making our ACDelco Cavalier even better than it was in Florida, because I guarantee that's what our competitors have been doing. As tight as these Pro Stock fields have become, every thousandth of a second counts."

Should Johnson need any assistance in differentiating between the two races, a simple check of the scenery will suffice. Located in the Nevada desert just north of the entertainment and gaming capital of the world, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a spectacular motorsports facility, featuring many innovative concepts, including locating the luxury suites along the top of the grandstands. In only its fourth year, it has become one of the most coveted titles on the NHRA circuit.

"I'm always excited to race in Las Vegas," stated Johnson. "The track itself is just awesome, from the incredible layout to the location with the mountains on one side, and a very unique city on the other. You have your choice of two strips, one with neon lights and another with 200-mph race cars. Either way, you're going to be entertained."

Despite the many options, Johnson's primary source of entertainment this weekend will once again center around his race car, as he looks to score consecutive wins for the third time in his career.

"The track in Las Vegas can be pretty good, but a lot depends on the weather conditions, and how long the sun is on it," explained Johnson. "We're taking back the same ACDelco Cavalier that we qualified number one with last October, so we should be in good shape. Naturally, our first concern will be qualifying, so we'll be looking at our notes from last year, which should make us competitive right out of the box.

"After that, we'll head into Sunday just like we did in Gainesville, taking it one round at a time, and see if we can hit the jackpot for the second race in a row. This team is ready to leave Las Vegas as winners."

Facts on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Racing Team entering the Nationals:

* KJ at Las Vegas: This will be Kurt's sixth appearance at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he has recorded two quarterfinal finishes (in 2001 and 2002). He also has one No. 1 qualifying performance in Las Vegas, which he accomplished at last year's ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals in October.

* Las Vegas Record Holder: Kurt holds both the elapsed time and top speed records at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 6.921 seconds and 199.64 mph, which he recorded during last October's ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals.

* Autograph session: Kurt Johnson will be participating in a one hour pre-race autograph session, that will be held on Thursday evening, April 3 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. at the ESPN Zone, which is located at the New York New York hotel and casino. For more information, please go to the official NHRA website, or, the official website of The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

* Stretching it to a Double: KJ will be looking to score back-to-back wins for the third time in his career, having most recently accomplished the feat three years ago with wins in Sonoma and Brainerd in 2000. Ironically, the two previous instances were three years apart, and in each case, the first victory was Kurt's first career win at a particular track, as it was in Gainevsille.

* Winning streak extended: With his win in Gainesville, Kurt has now extended his streak of winning at least one race a year to nine years, encompassing his entire Pro Stock career.

* POWERade Points standings: After the third of 23 events, Kurt is in second place in the 2003 POWERade point standings with 203 points, 42 behind current leader Greg Anderson, and 16 ahead of his father, Warren Johnson, who is in third. Kurt finished 6th in 2002, his tenth consecutive Top Ten finish.

* Winning percentage: Kurt's .632 elimination round winning percentage (304-177) ranks 11th among all active NHRA professional drivers.

* National event wins: Kurt's 24 national event victories ties him for 18th on the all-time NHRA professional win list. Kurt's most recent win came two weeks ago at the 2003 Mac Tools Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL.

* Career best elapsed time: 6.779 seconds, Reading, PA. 2001

* Career best top speed: 204.57 mph, Pomona, CA. 2003 (the fourth fastest in NHRA Pro Stock history.)


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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson