KJ Hopes to Give the Field the New Car Blues in Pomona ACDelco Cobalt crew preps new ride for NHRA season-opener Sugar Hill, Ga., February 5, 2008 -- Kurt Johnson and his ACDelco Cobalt racing team will head west this weekend as they kick off...
KJ Hopes to Give the Field the New Car Blues in Pomona
ACDelco Cobalt crew preps new ride for NHRA season-opener
Sugar Hill, Ga., February 5, 2008 -- Kurt Johnson and his ACDelco Cobalt racing team will head west this weekend as they kick off their pursuit of the 2008 POWERade Pro Stock championship with the Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, CA. Racing in the most competitive division in all of motorsports, this talented crew knows they will have to be at their very best in order to open the year with a victory.
Therefore, some may question their decision to bring a new and virtually untested car to the traditional drag racing season-opener. While conceding that any on-track experience with this new chassis will be beneficial in the long run, Johnson pointed to the combination of unfavorable weather, and a more pressing need to continue work on off-season research and development projects that could start paying dividends this weekend.
"Our current ACDelco Cobalt is the result of lessons we learned from the previous two editions, and we believe it's going to be the best one yet," said Johnson. "Certainly, we would like to have had more track time with it prior to Pomona, but it really wasn't an option.
"For one thing, once the car was ready to test, Mother Nature simply didn't cooperate. We also took extra time making sure we were fully prepared for the start of the season, and that included working on a few projects that we think should help us.
"As a result, we've had limited experience with this new car, but we're pretty pleased with the results so far. We made some decent runs at the Pontiac Pro Stock Showdown last weekend, and, for the most part, it's responded nicely to the changes we've made. We're still getting a handle on its tuning window, but the whole ACDelco crew is pumped heading into our first real race."
Adding an extra degree of difficulty to this already daunting challenge is the racing surface at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. In his 16-year Pro Stock career, Johnson has experienced both sides of the competitive spectrum on the California quarter-mile, winning four times in seven final round appearances but also having two high-profile on-track incidents, including a scary, high-speed trip into the top-end sand trap last November. Undaunted, he is optimistic about his chances to repeat his winning performance from this event in 2001, when he powered another new race car to the winner's circle in its first national event.
"We've had our share of ups and downs at the Auto Club Raceway," said Johnson. "It's a tricky track, especially in the right lane which rises and falls, as well as having several bumps in it. You have to take it all into account when deciding on what kind of set-up you're going to use.
"I've won races at Pomona, but also lost a couple race cars. It's just part of the game. However, it has been a few years since I've won there, and it's about time we changed that. We have fresh engines and a new car that looks like it's going to be fast. We took a brand new ACDelco Chevy to the winner's circle in 2001, and if everyone on the team does their job, I see no reason why we can't repeat that performance this weekend."