Johnson keeps winning streak alive with NHRA finals victory. POMONA, Calif. - Kurt Johnson saved his best performance for the last event of the 2002 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. K.J. returned to the NHRA winner's with a final-round victory...
Johnson keeps winning streak alive with NHRA finals victory.
POMONA, Calif. - Kurt Johnson saved his best performance for the last event of the 2002 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. K.J. returned to the NHRA winner's with a final-round victory over Gene Wilson at the Auto Club NHRA Finals, keeping his winning streak alive. He has now won at least one national event for eight consecutive seasons. Kurt's last victory came at Pomona Raceway when he won the 2001 Winternationals.
"When you go up there in the final round and you haven't won a race all year, it brings out the best in you," said Johnson. "I knew Gene was going to be tough; he was hitting .40 reaction times all day. I was pumped getting into the car. You have to stay cool, but my adrenaline was flowing."
Johnson put his ACDelco Cavalier in the No. 2 qualifying spot for the season-ending event with a single run down Pomona Raceway. On Thursday afternoon K.J. nailed down the second spot behind his father Warren with a 6.806-second elapsed time at 203.28 mph. After persistent rain washed out scheduled qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday, NHRA officials set the field on the basis of the single qualifying runs along with three seeded top-10 drivers.
"NHRA made a wise decision to run the race as scheduled instead of postponing it," Kurt commented after qualifying. "The track is green after the rain washed off the rubber, but it's really no different than when we test at an unprepared race track. Looking at the track, we're probably going to go with the right lane. We're the last pair out, so we can see which lane to choose. Even little advantages like going last and having lane choice work in your favor when the competition is as tough as it is in Pro Stock."
Kurt's Cavalier again carried special KISS graphics that celebrated the legendary rock 'n' roll band's 30th anniversary. The second-generation driver dispatched Mark Whisnant in the first round of eliminations with a 6.817-second elapsed time (the quickest of the round) and a 202.91 mph speed (fastest of the round).
Johnson took out Tommy Lee in the second round, 6.825 to 6.846. He got a break in the semifinal round when Greg Anderson's car broke behind the starting line. Kurt put his foot down and won lane choice for his final-round contest with Gene Wilson with a 6.842-second e.t.
The final outcome was never in doubt as K.J. was first off the starting line with a .425-second reaction time and first to the finish line with a 6.801-second elapsed time at 202.88 mph - the quickest run of eliminations.
"You give it your best every time, but you never know if it's going to happen or not," Kurt commented. "I've been trying just as hard for the last six races; it just all came together today. I'm pretty happy right now."
Johnson and his ACDelco team will have 13 weeks to prepare for the start of the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, which will begin at the season-opening K&N Winternationals on Feb. 6-9 at Pomona Raceway.