Memphis: GM Racing preview

. ACDelco Chevy Cobalt driver Kurt Johnson keeps closing the gap on the POWERade Pro Stock points leaders. Johnson captured his third victory of the season last Sunday at the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway by defeating Greg...

. ACDelco Chevy Cobalt driver Kurt Johnson keeps closing the gap on the POWERade Pro Stock points leaders. Johnson captured his third victory of the season last Sunday at the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway by defeating Greg Stanfield in an all-Chevrolet championship round. It was Johnson's 31st career victory and his third career win at BIR, and it also moved him to within 55 points of first-place Greg Anderson and to within six points of second-place Warren Johnson. It was also the third victory for Chevy Cobalt in NHRA Pro Stock competition since entering the playing field in April, and the 126th all-time for Chevrolet in NHRA Pro Stock competition.

. Johnson's 31 career wins place him fifth on the all-time NHRA Pro Stock list and fourth among active drivers behind Warren Johnson (95), Greg Anderson (35) and Jeg Coughlin (33).

. Just how hot has Kurt Johnson been? In the last five races, the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt driver has won three events and advanced to four final rounds. During that five-race span, KJ has captured 17 round wins and lost only twice while points leader Greg Anderson has won 10 and lost 4, and second-place Warren Johnson is 7 - 4.

. Since introducing his Chevy Cobalt into Pro Stock competition at Bristol, Tenn., 11 races ago on April 29, Kurt Johnson has earned three No. 1 qualifying spots, started eliminations qualified fourth or better 10 times, lost only one first-round matchup, and bagged 27 rounds to go against his 8 losses. Johnson's raceday slugging percentage since Bristol is .771. Prior to climbing into his new Cobalt, Johnson was 3 - 5 on raceday.

. The most recent NHRA Manufacturer's Cup standings released on August 5 show Pontiac in first place with 2,240 points. Dodge is second with 1,600 points and Chevrolet is third with 1,220. GM-branded Pro Stock cars (Chevrolet and Pontiac) have won 15 races this year, advanced to 29 final rounds, captured 14 poles, run low e.t. of the meet 15 times and set top speed 14 times.

. Led by GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver Warren Johnson, a pair of GTOs set the Pro Stock qualifying pace last weekend at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota with The Professor's brand-new Pontiac pulverizing the track e.t. and speed record with a run of 6.698 seconds at 206.57 mph. It was the 136th career pole for the six-time NHRA champion and northern Minnesota native, and the second time since it entered competition four races ago that a GTO has captured the No. 1 starting spot.

. The learning curve on the new Pontiac GTO continues to be dramatically reduced with each national event. In just four races since being introduced into NHRA Pro Stock competition on July 15, the Pontiac GTO has claimed two raceday poles, one victory, run low e.t of the meet twice and top speed three times. In addition to Warren Johnson's track-record e.t. and speed at Brainerd, Greg Anderson's Pontiac GTO set a Bandimere Speedway (Denver) track-record elapsed time of 7.106 seconds, a Pacific Raceways (Seattle) track-record speed of 207.24 mph, and an Infineon Raceway (Sonoma, Calif.) track-record speed of 206.95 mph.

. Greg Anderson captured his fourth win of the season at the Fram Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway on July 31, adding the celebrated name of GTO to the legacy of great Pontiacs that have won an NHRA Pro Stock national event. Anderson defeated the red-hot Kurt Johnson in an all-GM final to give the GTO its first of what promises to be many victories for the legendary nameplate in NHRA Pro Stock competition. It was also the 154th all-time win for Pontiac in the category, the most by any manufacturer in the history of the sport.

. After 16 races, Greg Anderson leads the POWERade Pro Stock standings in a Pontiac GTO with 1,224 points. Warren Johnson is in second place in a Pontiac GTO with 1,175 points. With 1,169 points, ACDelco Chevy Cobalt driver Kurt Johnson has moved to within 55 points of the top of the leader board and is just six points shy of second place. Jason Line (Pontiac) is fourth with 1,085 points and Dave Connolly (Chevy Cobalt) is fifth with 1,033 points.

. Chevrolet driver Greg Stanfield made a big jump in the points standings last weekend at Brainerd, Minn. Stanfield advanced to his first career final round in the Pro Stock category before losing to Kurt Johnson. The Bossier City, La., resident entered the weekend in eight place and wound up in sixth place with 815 points. Ron Krisher is in seventh place in a Chevy Cobalt with 808 points and Jim Yates (Pontiac) is 10th with 733 points.

. In the Pro Stock category, GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO driver Warren Johnson has won the most races at Memphis Motorsports Park (1991-92, 1996, 1998). Other former winners currently in GM-branded cars include defending champion Jason Line, Greg Anderson (2003), Mike Edwards (1999), Jim Yates (1997) and Mark Pawuk (1995).

. Greg Anderson holds the Memphis Motorsports track-record top speed for Pro Stock at 204.23 mph set in a Pontiac in Sept. 2003.

. Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. advanced to the semifinal round at Brainerd and moved to within 142 points of first-place Robert Hight with seven races remaining on the schedule. Johnson had his best qualifying effort of the season at Brainerd, starting in the No. 2 slot with a 4.751 e.t. at 326.24 mph.

. Current Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car drivers who have previously won at Memphis Motorsports Park include Tommy Johnson Jr. (1999), Gary Densham (2001) and Tony Pedregon (2002).

. Four Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car drivers occupy a spot in top 10 of the POWERade points standings. Tommy Johnson Jr. is in sixth place with 914 points, Cruz Pedregon is eighth with 831 points, Del Worsham is ninth with 777 points and Tony Pedregon is 10th with 760 points. Robert Hight is in first place with 1,056 points.

Qualifying for the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, Aug. 20, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern. Final eliminations will be telecast on ESPN2 on Sunday, August 21, starting at 10 p.m. Eastern.

-gm racing-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Greg Stanfield , Jason Line , Robert Hight , Dave Connolly , Mike Edwards , Tommy Johnson Jr.