THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Sears Craftsman Nationals. Johnson determined to revive season in St. Louis. MADISON, Ill. -- These are the times that try a racer's soul. Whether you call it a slump, a rough...
THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Sears Craftsman Nationals.
Johnson determined to revive season in St. Louis.
MADISON, Ill. -- These are the times that try a racer's soul. Whether you call it a slump, a rough patch or a dry spell, Kurt Johnson is enduring the most frustrating period of his nine-year career in Pro Stock. His third DNQ of the season at the preceding race in Columbus, Ohio, has fueled Johnson's determination to turn his year around. This weekend's Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis is the place for K.J. to start.
"We need to win," said the man who has stood in the Pro Stock winner's circle 22 times. "We're working harder than we've ever worked. We're getting smarter, too."
Johnson's ACDelco Cavalier was infested with electrical gremlins at the last event. Kurt is confident that a complete rewiring has exorcised the demons.
"In the first session in Columbus I ran the third fastest speed in the back-half," Kurt recalled. "I outran Dad, and I was feeling upbeat. We changed gear ratios and carburetor jets for the evening session, but the car didn't run at all. No problem -- we just put it all back the way it was for Saturday morning. It got worse. We put in a fresh motor that is as strong as Dad's for the final session, but it didn't make any difference. It's frustrating, but we'll figure it out."
Gateway International Raceway is a likely place for K.J. to return to form. He won there in 1998, defeating Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the final. In five appearances on the Illinois quarter-mile, he's qualified third or better; he was the No. 1 qualifier in 1999.
"It was hot last year in Madison, and the weather forecast promises the same for this race," Kurt observed. "The track has a new starting line with more bite. The key for our team is to improve the car's initial acceleration. We're losing a hundredth of a second in the first 60 feet and another couple of hundredths by 330 feet. We've got good power in the back half, but we can't afford to give up that much time at the start.
"I've been studying our notes and reading the computer graphs," K.J. added. "I think we can make all the right moves in Madison. Just one win would be good right now."