POMONA, Calif., Nov. 14, 2009 --Today's final two rounds of qualifying for the 45th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals provided Kurt Johnson with the opportunity to break into the 16-car Pro Stock field for Sunday's eliminator. Johnson will start race...
POMONA, Calif., Nov. 14, 2009 --Today's final two rounds of qualifying for the 45th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals provided Kurt Johnson with the opportunity to break into the 16-car Pro Stock field for Sunday's eliminator. Johnson will start race day from the No. 10 position after running 6.615 seconds at 209.26 mph.
"We made some changes for the final qualifying round, but the changes we made were for the track being like it was this morning" Johnson said. "By the time we ran tonight it was a lot better than we expected, and the car had some hook and shook a little bit. We picked up tonight, and the run looked better, but we felt there were a couple of hundredths left in it -- a 6.59 probably.
"On the positive side, I think it's a good set up for tomorrow. Once we get some sun on the track, and the rubber gets a little slimy, I think this set up is going to be killer tomorrow."
The NHRA Finals is certainly a race 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.
"We're batting .375 as far as going to the finals at this race, and we'll see if we can do it again tomorrow," Johnson said. "We have a good setup and we'll go out there and let the clutch fly."
Johnson will face No. 7 qualifier Johnny Gray in round one of eliminations. The two faced each other in round one at the season-opening Winternationals here last February.
"I owe him about four," Johnson said. "If we can take care of him and keep lane choice, then we can get it done."
The No. 1 qualifier is Mike Edwards in a Pontiac. Edwards captured his 16th No. 1 qualifying award with a 6.562 second e.t. at 210.64. By qualifying for this weekend's race, Edwards clinched his first NHRA Pro Stock Full Throttle championship.
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.