THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, Phoenix, Feb. 22-24, 2002 Kurt Johnson Primed For Phoenix Shootout You can certainly understand Kurt Johnson's separation anxiety. Following the...
THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, Phoenix, Feb. 22-24, 2002
Kurt Johnson Primed For Phoenix Shootout
You can certainly understand Kurt Johnson's separation anxiety. Following the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., Johnson's ACDelco rig has been parked in Phoenix in anticipation of the CSK Nationals at Firebird International Raceway on Feb. 22-24. Among the precious cargo under lock and key in Arizona are Johnson's record-setting GM Drag Race Competition Engines.
"As long as nobody has stolen the trailer, we should be all right," Kurt said from his top-secret engine shop in Sugar Hill, Ga. "With our race engines 2,000 miles away, we've been testing new ideas on the dyno every day. I have my fingers crossed that we'll pick up three or four horsepower before the Gatornationals."
In an engine that produces more than 1,300 horsepower, three or four additional ponies may seem insignificant. But given the ferocity of the competition in Pro Stock, just one horsepower can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
There is also a brand-new ACDelco Cavalier to occupy idle hands in Kurt's workshop. Pro Stock chassis, like Pro Stock engines, are constantly evolving to a higher level.
"This is our fourth-generation car from Jerry Haas, and it looks promising," Kurt reported. "We've widened and strengthened the chassis to make it stiffer. We'll find out soon whether or not it works."
Johnson has experienced the full range of racing emotions at Firebird International Raceway. He crashed there in his rookie season in 1993, and he won there in 1999. This year's event will mark his tenth race at the Arizona track.
"We're going to start off in Phoenix with the car set up just the way it left Pomona," he said. "We think the starting line at Firebird will be a little better than the first 60 feet at the Winternationals. If we need more traction, we know what to do.
"Firebird does have some bumps, and I think our double-rail chassis will be an advantage," Johnson reported. "The stiffer frame lets the shock absorbers do their work. The Cavalier I'm driving now is very similar to the double-rail Camaro that won in Phoenix in 1999. That car stayed hooked up even on a bumpy track, and I hope that this car does the same."
Johnson is fourth in the NHRA POWERade championship standings after a semifinal finish at the K&N Filters Winternationals. He'll be reunited with his beloved engines at Firebird International Raceway before Friday's first qualifying session -- and he's counting the minutes. <pre> KURT JOHNSON'S FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY RECORD
Year Qualified Result 1993 3 Semifinal 1994 4 Semifinal 1995 4 First Round 1996 13 First Round 1997 8 Second Round 1998 4 Second Round 1999 2 Winner (over T. Coughlin) 2000 1 First Round 2001 2 Second Round