Kurt Johnson Wins First NHRA National Event For Chevy Cobalt Wilkerson Reaches Funny Car Final in Chevy Monte Carlo MADISON, Ill., June 26, 2005 - Showcasing a dominating car all weekend, Kurt Johnson started today's Sears Craftsman NHRA ...
Kurt Johnson Wins First NHRA National Event For Chevy Cobalt
Wilkerson Reaches Funny Car Final in Chevy Monte Carlo
MADISON, Ill., June 26, 2005 - Showcasing a dominating car all weekend, Kurt Johnson started today's Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway from the No. 1 qualifying position, posted the quickest elapsed time in each of his four rounds, and plowed through the Pro Stock field to claim his first win of the season and the first national-event win for the new Chevy Cobalt. In only his seventh start in the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt since its introduction at Bristol (Tenn.) earlier this spring, Johnson defeated Greg Anderson in today's finals with an elapsed time of 6.729 seconds at 205.19 mph as Anderson's Pontiac had a red-light start.
"We had a strong car all weekend, and our ACDelco Cobalt made a great run in the final," said Johnson. "Even though the outcome had already been determined by Greg's red light, it was gratifying to be able to run as well as we did under the conditions. I didn't know he had red lit until I put it in third gear and I looked up and saw the win light on my side. They're a tough team, and we knew we needed to run well in order to beat them. We had made some changes before the final, and obviously they were the right ones. I wasn't expecting to go as quick as that 6.72, but we'll certainly take it. It's been a while since we've won, and it certainly feels great any time you make it to the winner's circle, but I would still have to classify this as one of our better wins, especially since we got the first one for the Cobalt."
Johnson made his second final-round appearance of the season by defeating Kenny Koretsky in Round 1, Allen Johnson in Round 2, and Jason Line in the semifinals. Johnson's win was the 29th of his career but his first career defeat of Anderson in a finals, and his ACDelco Chevy Cobalt has now recorded one win, one runner-up and three semifinals in seven starts.
"I'm sure some people will say this win was expected since we had the dominant car all weekend, but you still have to make everything add up," stated Johnson. "For example, we've had a car capable of winning the race on several occasions this year, but for one reason or another, just didn't get the job done. Today, it all fell in place. We had a fast race car, a little bit of luck went our way, and I drove well enough to get the trophy.
"This ACDelco Cobalt is really coming around. We made some changes in testing Tuesday, and I think they really paid off. However, all that mattered was that we turned on the win light four times today. We are fortunate to have the support of some great sponsors like ACDelco and Chevrolet, who allows us to do what we need to win, which is work hard, spending long hours on the dyno and at the shop, making sure we put the absolute best car we can on the racetrack. This win is for them, as well as my crew and everyone back at the shop in Sugar Hill, who has put in the long hours to help make this happen. It may only be one win, but we're going to enjoy this for just a little while before getting back to working on the getting the next one."
Anderson reached the finals for the fifth time this season in his Summit Racing Pontiac on the strength of a first-round win over Jim Yates, a second-round win over Jeg Coughlin, and then a semifinal defeat of Dave Connolly. In a season-long battle for the top spot in Pro Stock, Anderson leaves Gateway with a 15-point lead over teammate Line and 28 points over Warren Johnson.
It was an all-GM semifinals as Johnson defeated Jason Line in a Pontiac when Line had a red-light start, and Anderson's Pontiac bested the Chevy Cobalt of Dave Connolly with an elapsed time of 6.757 at 203.98 mph to Connolly's 6.770 at 203.68 mph. Johnson's 6.750 in the semis narrowly gave him lane choice in the finals.
In Funny Car, Springfield, Ill., resident Tim Wilkerson kept his fans happy by reaching the finals in his Chevy Monte Carlo. Wilkerson defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in Round 1 in a battle of Monte Carlos, bested Tim Haddock in Round 2, and then defeated another Chevy Monte Carlo in the semifinals by getting the better of Gary Densham. In the finals Ron Capps in a Dodge defeated Wilkerson with an e.t. of 4.862 seconds at 321.04 mph to Wilkerson's tire-smoking 7.808 e.t. at 112.65 mph. Chevrolet occupied three of the four semifinal spots as Gary Densham and Tony Pedregon joined Wilkerson in the third round of eliminations. Pedregon lost to eventual event winner Capps on a holeshot with an elapsed time of 4.951 seconds at 312.93 mph to Capps' slower 4.953 e.t. at 295.21 mph.
Brandon Bernstein claimed his first win of the season in Top Fuel by defeating Morgan Lucas in the finals with an elapsed time of 4.533 seconds at 324.59 mph to Lucas's 4.793 e.t. at 314.31 mph.
The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series is the 26th annual Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., on July 15-17.