With Beale St. jazz clubs, a pyramid that hosts basketball games and Elvis' beloved Graceland, Memphis is a crossroads of culture. For one amazing weekend last year, Memphis also had the quickest quarter-mile in America. The 2000 edition of...
With Beale St. jazz clubs, a pyramid that hosts basketball games and Elvis' beloved Graceland, Memphis is a crossroads of culture. For one amazing weekend last year, Memphis also had the quickest quarter-mile in America. The 2000 edition of the AutoZone Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park produced career-best elapsed times for virtually every Pro Stock driver - except Kurt Johnson.
Kurt found himself in the unfamiliar role of spectator when final eliminations got underway last year in Memphis. Fresh from a victory in Reading, Pa., Johnson missed the cut for the AutoZone Nationals for the second time in his career. It's a painful memory that the ACDelco driver hopes to erase this weekend.
"The weather conditions in Memphis were extreme and I never did make a good run," Kurt recalled. "Now I'm looking forward to going back because it has become a challenge. I have a score to settle in Elvis' hometown."
Johnson and his ACDelco teammates have spent the three-week interval since the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals preparing for the home stretch of the 2001 season. They logged 17 test runs at Atlanta Dragway before loading up the rig for the short trip to Tennessee.
"The car is totally different - smooth and consistent," Kurt reported. "With what we've learned in the last 12 months, I think we're ready to tackle Memphis regardless of the conditions."
With the official arrival of autumn on Saturday, Johnson is focusing on his cool-weather setup for the series' inaugural fall race in Chicago on Sept. 28-30 and the rescheduled Keystone Nationals in Reading, Pa., on Oct. 5-7.
"The air should be good in Chicago and Reading and I expect the cars will be flying," Kurt predicted. "It's just a matter of making good runs, being consistent and winning rounds. With six races left, I plan to do everything I can to win every one of them." <pre>
KURT JOHNSON'S AUTOZONE NATIONALS RECORD: Year Qual. Result 1993 3 Second Round 1994 5 Semifinal 1995 5 First Round 1996 DNQ 1997 1 First Round 1998 11 Runner-up (to W. Johnson) 1999 8 Semifinal 2000 DNQ