KJ & Crew Win Full Throttle Pit Crew Championship, Qualify Third for NHRA Season Finale Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team approached qualifying for the Auto Club of Southern California Finals with two separate goals. Naturally,...
KJ & Crew Win Full Throttle Pit Crew Championship, Qualify Third for NHRA Season Finale
Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team approached qualifying for the Auto Club of Southern California Finals with two separate goals. Naturally, their top priority was securing a position in the top half of the field for Sunday's final eliminations. However, they also looked to capture this year's Full Throttle Pit Crew championship, awarded to the team who had been the most consistent and highest performing in qualifying throughout the 24-race campaign.
Although their performance in the first two days of qualifying at the California quarter-mile had virtually assured him a position on Sunday's final eliminations ladder, with the slightly improved conditions on Saturday, Johnson's team knew they would need to pick up the pace in order to stay near the top of the starting order and claim the $15,000
Fortunately, the team was up to the challenge, posting the third-quickest time in the morning run before completing their qualifying effort with the quickest time of the final session at 6.643 seconds to earn the third starting position, their 19th Top Five starting performance in the 24-race season. This, combined with difficulties by Jason Line in the final session, was enough to secure both the event and season title for the Johnson-led crew.
"One of our goals throughout the season was to win the Full Throttle Pit Crew championship. Although we had the lead coming into Pomona, we knew Jason's performance over the first two days had put him in position to go around us, so we decided to make some huge changes to our ACDelco Cobalt for Saturday. After all, we were fairly confident our 6.670 from Thursday would not get bumped out, so we went for it.
"Fortunately, it all came together, and when Jason shook the tires on his last run, it pretty much sealed the deal. Considering everything we had to deal with in the last half of the season, I can't say enough about the effort made by my crew, Justin (car chief Belfance), Brian (Strait -- a high school friend of KJ's and "weekend warrior" who filled in for the second half of the season), as well as everyone on Dad's GM Performance Parts crew and everyone back at the shop in Sugar Hill. Although I make all the tuning calls, I'm also the lucky guy who gets to sit behind the wheel of the great race car they give me."
Naturally, with qualifying for the final race of the season behind him, Johnson quickly turned his attention to Sunday's final eliminations, where the second-generation racer looked to score his fourth win of the season, as well as his fourth victory at drag racing's season ender.
"Of course, we wish we could have run this well over the last six races to challenge for the big trophy, but it just wasn't meant to be, so we'll focus on winning this race and finishing second in the standings. It's going to be a typical Pro Stock battle, with whoever lets the clutch out first winning. I have to get on that project, because I was a little off in qualifying, so I have to make sure I'm ready tomorrow. After all, we believe we have a car in this ACDelco Cobalt that can win the race. Tomorrow should be a fun day, and we're looking forward to it."
Finally, with the smoke from the rapidly spreading wild fires in the area darkening the horizon, Johnson took time to offer his thoughts on those affected.
"You don't have to look far to see that there are some people in a serious crisis. I can't imagine what it must be like to have your house burn down with all your possessions inside. Our hearts go out to all of them, as well as the people out there fighting the blaze, and we hope that things go as well as they can for them."