Pomona: Kurt Chronicles Pomona preview edition

Johnson Aims For Three Straight At Pomona Raceway On Kurt Johnson's last two visits to Pomona Raceway, he got the big trophy, the big check and a big kiss from Miss Winston. A third straight victory at Pomona Raceway in the inaugural Pep Boys...

Johnson Aims For Three Straight At Pomona Raceway

On Kurt Johnson's last two visits to Pomona Raceway, he got the big trophy, the big check and a big kiss from Miss Winston. A third straight victory at Pomona Raceway in the inaugural Pep Boys NHRA 50th Anniversary Nationals on July 5-7 would be the perfect antidote for Johnson's stomach-churning season.

Johnson dominated the two previous national events in the birthplace of drag racing. He spoiled Jeg Coughlin Jr.'s championship celebration last year by defeating the newly crowned Pro Stock champion in the final round of the season-ending Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. Then he debuted his new ACDelco Cavalier with a resounding victory over Darrell Alderman in the AutoZone Winternationals season-opener. Last November he set the Pomona Raceway Pro Stock e.t. record; in February he set the track speed record at 202.18 mph.

Now Johnson hopes to continue that Pomona magic. He comes into the 13th race of the season after the longest dry spell of his nine-year driving career. K.J. hasn't won a round since April 29 in Bristol, Tenn. But a strong No. 3 qualifying performance in the preceding race in Madison, Ill., has buoyed Johnson's confidence.

"I've raced in Pomona for years, but I've never been there in the summer," said Johnson. "I'm glad we're going to Pomona three times this season -- that's one more opportunity for me to keep my winning streak alive.

"We're not out of the championship race yet," Kurt declared. "If I can find some good luck and the guys ahead of me experience the kind of luck that I've had for the last few races, you could see a 160-point swing. As tough as the competition is in Pro Stock, I expect some of the people at the top of the standings will bow out in the early rounds.

"Sitting seventh in the Winston points, I don't feel any pressure," Johnson noted. "We know we can run up front. We know we can win races."

Johnson's first order of business is to improve his race car's reaction time after a holeshot loss to Jeg Coughlin Jr. at the Sears Craftsman Nationals. "I just couldn't get the car to react at the last race," K.J. explained. "The car was making good runs, the elapsed times were respectable, and the engine was hitting on all eight cylinders. But I was leaving the starting line with the rpm so low that the car just wouldn't react -- and that made the driver look bad.

"We cured one problem and created another," Johnson conceded. "We're going to work on the race car's reaction time and get that straightened out."

If he is successful, look for Kurt to get the trophy, the check and the kiss one more time. <pre> KURT JOHNSON'S POMONA RACEWAY RECORD

Year        Qualified    Result
1993 Spring   15         Semi-Final
1993 Fall      2         Runner-up (to W. Johnson
1994 Spring    3         Semi-Final
1994 Fall      7         Second Round
1995 Spring    3         First Round
1995 Fall      4         Semi-Final
1996 Spring    4         Second Round
1996 Fall     13         First Round
1997 Spring    5         Runner-up (to W. Johnson)
1997 Fall      6         Winner (over Martino)
1998 Spring   11         First Round
1998 Fall      3         Second Round
1999 Spring    2         Semi-Final
1999 Fall      7         First Round
2000 Spring    8         Second Round
2000 Fall      6         Winner (over J. Coughlin)
2001 Spring    5         Winner (over Alderman)

-KC/ACDelco-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson