Cloud Cover Costs KJ in Reading Semifinals Entering the semifinals of Sunday's final eliminations of the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, PA, ACDelco Cobalt racer Kurt Johnson seemed to have put himself in position to win back-to-back...
Cloud Cover Costs KJ in Reading Semifinals
Entering the semifinals of Sunday's final eliminations of the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, PA, ACDelco Cobalt racer Kurt Johnson seemed to have put himself in position to win back-to-back races. After qualifying second, he had opened by defeating Greg Stanfield with a solid 6.644-second, 207.88 mph pass, and then bettered that performance in the second round by recording the quickest elapsed time of eliminations at 6.632-seconds to eliminate veteran Larry Morgan.
The final obstacle between Kurt and his fifth 2008 final round appearance was rival Jeg Coughlin, whom KJ had defeated in a similar scenario one week ago in Brainerd. However, just as Johnson pulled to the line, a slight cloud cover moved over Maple Grove Raceway changing his view of the starting line "Christmas Tree", with the opaque background allowing him to focus more easily on the LED lights. As a result, he reacted too quickly, leaving the starting line four thousandths of a second early and handing the automatic win to his opponent.
Although naturally disappointed by the outcome, Johnson was heartened by his race car's continued strong performance, which had allowed him to gain ground on points leader Greg Anderson, who had lost one round prior to KJ's premature exit.
"Today we were bitten by a big, black cloud. In every run before the semis, both in qualifying and eliminations, it was sunny and bright. On top of that, the track had been tight all weekend, and after going eight thousandths red on our first qualifying pass, we had to stretch out the air gap to make sure we went green. We felt we had a handle on it today, with that .031 and .023 in the first two rounds.
"However, just as we staged against Jeggie, a cloud came over, and the tree was so much easier to see, because there was absolutely no glare, and we came up four thousandths short of being the hero, but at least I learned something. Other than that, it's just racing.
"Still, I think we have something special in this ACDelco Cobalt, and that alone pumps me up. I've been driving better lately, with my lights coming around, and that was the first time I red lighted all year. You have to know where your limits are, and we found that today. Unfortunately, we felt this was a race we could have won. You can't win being late, and you can't win being early, you need to be perfect, so that's what we'll try to be two weeks from now in Indy."