KJ's Season-Opening Charge Ends in Pomona Semifinals After earning the NHRA's Full Throttle award for being the most consistent car in qualifying, ACDelco Cobalt racer Kurt Johnson was cautiously optimistic about his chances entering Sunday's...
KJ's Season-Opening Charge Ends in Pomona Semifinals
After earning the NHRA's Full Throttle award for being the most consistent car in qualifying, ACDelco Cobalt racer Kurt Johnson was cautiously optimistic about his chances entering Sunday's final eliminations of the Carquest Auto Parts Winternationals in Pomona, CA. This confidence seemed justified in the first round, as, starting from the third position, Johnson recorded his fourth 6.64-second elapsed time in his last five attempts, using a 6.648-second, 208.30 mph run to defeat veteran Mike Edwards.
Johnson's reward for this strong showing was a second round encounter with 2006 Pro Stock champion Jason Line. Using a stellar .013 reaction time, the quickest of the round, KJ gained a massive six hundredths of a second advantage on his opponent and never looked back, with his 6.675-second, 207.78 mph pass holding off Line's 6.653-second, 208.65 mph effort.
The final obstacle between Johnson and his third Winternationals final round appearance was defending Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin. Although Kurt made another strong run at 6.651-seconds, 208.01 mph, it fell just shy of overcoming his opponent's head start, who used a 6.666-second, 207.46 mph pass to advance. Even so, Johnson was pleased with his team's and his new car's performance.
"I got by the second round on a hole shot, but came up eleven thousandths short on the other end of one in the semis. The tubing inside this new ACDelco Cobalt is different from our last car, and I had to look around it to see the tree in the left lane. As a result, the angle I was using somehow allowed his (Coughlin's) car to creep into my peripheral vision. I could see him moving in to stage, and that might have been a distraction.
"In addition, the sun had also gone down enough by the semifinals that there was a tremendous glare off the back of the hood scoop, which made it harder to see the tree. As close as the competition is in Pro Stock, you can't afford to have any slip-ups. Whether it's the tree or the run or the tires, one little mistake and you're on the trailer.
"The close ones are never easy. Today was my fault, but we'll put it behind us and move on. The good news is that we are in better shape after this year's Winternationals than we have been in some time. We have some great motors, this new ACDelco Cobalt is working well, and we have the manpower to get the job done. It's just a matter of hitting all the bases.
"We're looking forward to Phoenix. We'll take what we learned here, address any issues, fine-tune what we can, and head to the desert looking to make perfect runs, with everyone doing their job. We know what it takes to win -- we just need to execute."