POMONA, Calif., Nov. 11, 2009 -- The NHRA Full Throttle season comes full circle this weekend when the series makes its final stop of the 2009 campaign at the 45th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. ACDelco's Kurt Johnson...
POMONA, Calif., Nov. 11, 2009 -- The NHRA Full Throttle season comes full circle this weekend when the series makes its final stop of the 2009 campaign at the 45th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. ACDelco's Kurt Johnson began his quest for the Pro Stock crown at this venue a little more than nine months ago, and now that championships have all but officially been decided in two of the three professional categories, the Buford, Ga.-resident can concentrate on the task at hand -- picking up what has been an elusive national-event victory.
Johnson entered the season with a 14-year streak in tow in which he had won at least one national event, and he will need a victory at the season finale in Pomona to keep it alive for 2010.
"Me and John Force are in the same boat," Johnson said. "We're trying to keep this streak going and my full intention is to go into the winner's circle late Sunday afternoon at Pomona under the lights. We've been in this situation before. We came into the last race in 2002 needing a win and we got it done. You really don't think too much about it throughout the year because you're busy just going from race to race and trying to be competitive.
"I'm trying to figure out what I did in 2002 because we went into this same race with something like 44 races, since the 2001 Winternationals, without a win. It wasn't bothering me too much back then and I'm not going to let it bother me now. We'll go into Pomona, try to qualify well, see if we can keep lane choice on Sunday and attempt to win it like we do every race we go to."
Pomona is certainly a venue where Johnson could grab his first win of the season. The ACDelco Chevrolet driver has a total of four national-event victories at the LA County Fairgrounds and three wins at the NHRA Finals (1997, 2000, '02). Johnson has also advanced to the final six times at the NHRA Finals including last year when he lost a close final-round matchup to Greg Anderson.
"As far as going to the finals at this race, we're batting around .375, so that's not a bad average," Johnson said. "If we can go to the final round and have a shot at that trophy, in Mark Christopher's backyard, that's all we can ask for right now. We'll give it our best."
Coming into this event, the ACDelco Chevrolet driver is sitting ninth in the Full Throttle points standings, and under the right circumstances, he could conceivably finish as high as sixth place. A test session following the series' last contest in Las Vegas addressed a number of issues on the race car and Johnson is confident as he treks to California to close out the 2009 season.
"Monday at Las Vegas went pretty well," Johnson said. "We made six runs and they were probably six runs we should have made during race weekend there. We kind of got behind the eight-ball, finally made a decent run in the first round and it didn't pan out. The car didn't run well, although I drove decent. We tried to get the car to run a little bit better on Monday and I think we accomplished that. We'll definitely be able to use what we learned testing in Pomona. We've come to Pomona from Vegas before and run real well, including '02. We have high hopes right now."
The 45th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals on Nov. 12 -- 15 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona closes out the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season. ESPN2 will broadcast a two-hour qualifying show on Saturday, Nov. 14, beginning at 10:30 p.m. Eastern. Final eliminations coverage gets underway on Sunday, Nov. 15, with NHRA Race Day starting at 11 a.m., and a three-hour telecast of final eliminations kicks off at 7 p.m. Eastern.