With the Help of a Long-Time Friend, a Hungry KJ Targets Second Winternationals Win Sugar Hill, Ga., February 10, 2010 -- On the outside, things will seem very different for Pro Stock stalwart Kurt Johnson at this weekend's O'Reilly Kragen NHRA...
With the Help of a Long-Time Friend, a Hungry KJ Targets Second Winternationals Win
Sugar Hill, Ga., February 10, 2010 -- On the outside, things will seem very different for Pro Stock stalwart Kurt Johnson at this weekend's O'Reilly Kragen NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, CA. The familiar blue, red and white livery he has carried for over 20 years has been replaced by a mostly white design. His two-man crew is completely new, having joined the Sugar Hill-based organization during the winter.
However, a closer inspection will show that many of this perennial championship contender's key components remain in place, including a proven race car powered by the legendary Johnson horsepower. Most importantly, Ontario, CA-based Mark Christopher Auto Center, who has been with the team virtually since its inception has stepped forward to sponsor the team for the first few races of the 2010 Full Throttle season.
"We've certainly gone through some changes this off-season, but when Q1 rolls around on Thursday, we will be ready thanks to Chris, Mark and Shirley Leggio as well as everyone at the Mark Christopher Auto Center," said Johnson. "This past off-season wasn't all that different from a year ago when our sponsorship for last year wasn't finalized until the very last minute. We've had some changes in personnel, and our Cobalt's going to have a different look to it, but everything is good right now.
"Mark Christopher has been with us since my rookie year in 1993, when I had their name on my door at the Finals and I was the runner-up to Dad (six-time champion Warren Johnson). Through all the years, they have treated us like kings, rolling out the red carpet. I look forward to racing in their backyard this weekend and carrying their colors. I think we may surprise a few people this weekend in Pomona."
Despite the challenging times, Johnson is optimistic about his prospects for the upcoming season, as he looks to return to the winning ways for which he is so well known. With so much on the line, motivation will certainly not be a problem.
"I'm ready to let the clutch out," said Johnson. "For a variety of reasons, including some very uncooperative weather, we haven't been able to test, so we'll have a couple questions heading into the weekend, but it's nothing we can't handle. In fact, it will force us to pay a little extra attention, which isn't a bad thing. Pomona has been a pretty good track for us, so we should be fine.
"The bottom line is that this is a big race and we're hungry. We want to win now more than ever, simply because it's been a while. We have a new crew that's all pumped up and a sponsor to whom we'd like to show our appreciation. We'll see where we stand starting on Thursday, and hopefully we'll end the weekend with our Mark Christopher Cobalt in the winner's circle. If we do, it's going to be one heck of a party."