January 29, 1997 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Rick Voegelin/408-761-2201 KURT JOHNSON RACE NOTES NHRA Chief Winternationals KURT JOHNSON, 33, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, starts the 1997 season...
January 29, 1997 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Rick Voegelin/408-761-2201
KURT JOHNSON RACE NOTES NHRA Chief Winternationals
KURT JOHNSON, 33, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, starts the 1997 season with a new paint scheme, a new son, and a new outlook on racing. Johnson's Pro Stock Firebird is flying ACDelco's red-white-and-blue colors this season on the NHRA circuit.
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN. Kurt's new colors recall the tri-colored ACDelco Oldsmobile Ciera that his father Warren campaigned in 1988, and the ACDelco Cutlass that Warren drove to his first NHRA championship in 1992. Kurt assembled the 500ci engines that powered both machines.
"ACDelco has been good to us in the past, and I know ACDelco is going to be a great sponsor in the future," Johnson said. "We're going to do what we're supposed to do -- win races and help promote ACDelco products."
ALL IN THE FAMILY. Kurt and his wife Kathy welcomed their first child into the world, son Conner Emory, on November 4, 1996 -- just one week after last year's season finale at Pomona.
"With the responsibility of supporting a family, it was a great feeling when we signed a three-year agreement with ACDelco," Kurt recalled. "I'm looking to the future and planning ahead. Having a child definitely makes a person more level-headed."
FRESH PERSPECTIVE. Kurt's newfound maturity is also evident in his outlook for the new season. "We're going to pay attention to the track and weather conditions and try to be more consistent," Kurt comments. "We're not going to try to run 6.80s on a track that won't handle it. I'm confident that we're going to have all the power we need under the hood. Our goal is to do a better job of adapting that power to the race track."
TESTING, TESTING. Kurt clicked off several 6-second runs at pre-season tests at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway and Houston Raceway Park. KJ ran 6.96/199.02 mph in Florida, and then bettered those times with a 6.96/199.20 in Texas -- the quickest and fastest runs of his career.
FAMILIAR FACES. Kurt will start the new season with the same crew that carried him to victories in Atlanta and Indianapolis last season. Crew chief Kevin Horst and chief mechanic Bob Lawson both worked on Bob Newberry's alcohol-burning Funny Car before joining the ranks of Pro Stock's top wrenches on Kurt's ACDelco team.
POINTS RACE UPDATE. At the start of the 22-race NHRA season, Kurt Johnson is in a dead heat with every other Pro Stock driver -- they are all tied with zero points! Kurt finished fourth in the 1996 championship race -- his fourth straight Top Five finish in the Pro Stock standings, the most competitive class in drag racing.
CAREER RECORD: Johnson has seven NHRA national event victories in 13 career final round appearances. He was the 1993 Winston Rookie of the Year. Kurt has qualified on the Pro Stock "pole" four times in his four-year NHRA career.
FIRST IN THE SIXES. Kurt recorded the first 6-second run by a Pro Stock driver in NHRA history with a record-setting 6.988-second e.t. in Englishtown, New Jersey, on May 20, 1994.
FATHER KNOWS BEST. Since the start of his driving career in 1993, Kurt has raced his father Warren 21 times in national event competition; he won seven of their intramural contests. Kurt defeated Warren in two final rounds: the 1993 Keystone Nationals (Reading, Penn.) and 1993 Chief Nationals (Dallas, Texas).
POMONA RACEWAY RECORD. Johnson's best result at Pomona Raceway was a runner-up finish (to his father Warren) at the 1993 Winston Select Finals at Pomona Raceway. He was a semifinalist at the Winternationals in 1993 (his first NHRA race) and in 1994. He bowed out in the first round in 1995 and in the quarterfinals in 1996.
DID YOU KNOW?
. . . that Kurt Johnson has finished in the Top Five in the NHRA championship in all four years of his career?
. . . that Warren and Kurt Johnson were the first father and son to finish 1-2 in the NHRA Winston championship? In 1993, WJ was No. 1, and KJ was No. 2 in the final standings.
. . . that Warren and Kurt Johnson were in the first father vs. son final round in NHRA history? It happened on April 25, 1993, at Commerce, Georgia, when WJ defeated KJ.
. . . that an ACDelco RAPIDFIRE spark plug in Kurt Johnson's Pro Stock engine fires up to 80 times per second?
. . . that Kurt Johnson earned the biggest payday ever for a Pro Stock driver? He pocketed $91,000 in prize money when he broke the 6-second barrier, set the NHRA national record, and won the Pro Stock Challenge in Englishtown, N.J., in May 1994.
. . . that ACDelco parts fit nearly every make and model vehicle on the road today? There's an ACDelco Freedom battery for most domestic and import models, and spark plugs and oil and air filter coverage exceeds 96 percent.
. . . that as a youngster, Kurt was allowed to go to the races only if he maintained an "A" average in school? He never missed a race.
. . . that according to an independent study, the average life of ACDelco automotive batteries is 30 percent longer than the average life of competitors' automotive batteries?
. . . that Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Pontiac can accelerate from zero to 100 mph in two seconds?
KJ QUICK QUOTES
What is your outlook on the new season?
"Since I'm the team's engine assembler and dyno operator, I'm always tinkering with the motor. Going into a race, I know that I'm going to have plenty of power under the hood. My job is to make sure that all the pieces are fresh to adapt that power to the race track. That's going to be my biggest challenge in '97.
What does it take to race in Pro Stock today?
"It definitely takes money to race in Pro Stock today. If I didn't have a good sponsor like ACDelco behind me, it would be a real struggle out there. You're battling a lot of knowledge; there are several teams that have the experience to know what to do on race day. I've always been fortunate to have plenty of horsepower, and that's helped me through some tight situations."
Is racing fun for your or just a job?
"I love what I'm doing. I go to work every morning pumped up. I feel like I'm one of the most fortunate people on earth because I have a job I like. Even though we work 80 to 90 hours a week, every time I go the shop I'm excited to be there. Nothing is more satisfying than putting engines together and finding that extra horsepower."
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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 29-Jan-1997