Phoenix - Kurt Johnson Story

CHEVROLET NEWS Kurt Johnson Conquers Firebird International Raceway; Wins His First Pro Stock Title Here in Camaro Z28 Johnson Scores his 13th Career Title, Takes Over Points Lead PHOENIX, Ariz.; Feb. 28, 1999: He had 12 Pro Stock...

CHEVROLET NEWS

Kurt Johnson Conquers Firebird International Raceway; Wins His First Pro Stock Title Here in Camaro Z28

Johnson Scores his 13th Career Title, Takes Over Points Lead

PHOENIX, Ariz.; Feb. 28, 1999: He had 12 Pro Stock title wins before he showed up at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals this weekend, the second round of the 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. And not one of them was won here. After crashing here in 1993 in his rookie season, Kurt Johnson figured he'd never conquer the quarter mile at Firebird International Raceway, nestled in the Valley of the Sun. But in a flawless performance that could be considered for an Oscar if the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series was a member of the "academy," Johnson dominated every round of final eliminations to claim his first win here, his 13th of his career, and the third for the Camaro Z28 since he switched brands in 1998. He also took over the points lead for the first time in his career.

No. 2 qualifier Johnson, of Sugar Hill, Ga., defeated Troy Coughlin in the final round with a 6.97-second pass at 197.97 mph, the finishing touch to a string of quick and consistent e.t.'s, the lowest in every round: 6.957 over Ron Krisher, 6.999 to eliminate Steve Schmidt, and 7.008 to oust Jeg Coughlin in the semifinals.

Troy Coughin took off first at the starting lights, the only time Kurt was not the dominator in reaction times the entire day, but his 8.095-second pass at 120.38 mph while slipping and sliding down the track couldn't knock the son of FOUR-time Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson off the podium.

"After crashing here in '93 and the problems we had in Pomona (the first event of the season where he lost to Jeg Coughlin in the semis)," said Kurt, "we did some testing in Tucson and what we learned ultimately prevailed here. We learned some stuff about the Camaro that we didn't know before. We put it on this hot and greasy race track and it was absolutely flawless seven rounds in a row. I'd say it's looking pretty good for the rest of the year with this old hunk of tubing. If I can get down this race track I feel we have a hot rod that will be competitive the rest of the season."

This was Kurt's and the Camaro Z28's sixth final round appearance since Chevrolet returned to the Pro Stock category in 1998.

Kurt holds a six-point margin in the Winston Championship over Pomona winner Jeg Coughlin (194-188) as the 22-event series moves to Gainesville, Fla., for the Mac Tools Gatornationals on March 18-21.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Ron Krisher , Steve Schmidt