Kurt Johnson Scores Runner-Up Finish at Rain-Delayed Reading Race Reading, PA, August 22, 2007 - After three days of persistent rain at Maple Grove Raceway, final eliminations of the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals were finally completed on Wednesday,...
Kurt Johnson Scores Runner-Up Finish at Rain-Delayed Reading Race
Reading, PA, August 22, 2007 - After three days of persistent rain at Maple Grove Raceway, final eliminations of the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals were finally completed on Wednesday, with Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team powering their way to a runner-up finish. It was the 67th final round appearance of Johnson's career, second of the season and fourth at the Keystone State quarter-mile.
Starting 13th, Johnson had defeated No. 4 qualifier Jeg Coughlin and Ron Krisher in the early rounds, which had been held on Monday during a brief respite from the storms that plagued the Reading area in the early part of the week.
However, almost two days would pass before the second-generation racer would square off against rival and No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson in the semifinals. Running without the benefit of lane choice, Johnson responded with the quickest pass of the day at 6.611-seconds with a top speed 208.71 mph to eliminate Anderson, who posted a 6.639-second time in the losing effort.
The final obstacle between Johnson and a fourth Maple Grove win was No. 2 qualifier David Connolly. With the temperatures hovering in the middle 60's, he knew a near-perfect run would be needed to take home the trophy and made a few adjustments in hopes of further taming the tricky track. Unfortunately, his hopes of victory were soon ended, as he suffered severe tire shake almost immediately after launch, and although he was able to regain control and complete the run, his 6.857-second, 206.80 mph pass as not enough to overcome his opponent's 6.643-second effort.
Although naturally disappointed with the final result, Johnson was pleased with his team's overall effort and strong showing, which provides a solid launching point as they enter the second round of the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship.
"With the overcast skies and cool temperatures, there was tremendous traction today, giving us very little room between making it down the track and shaking the tires. We got away with it in the semis by being a little conservative and slipping the clutch, with our ACDelco Cobalt making a nice, smooth run.
"For the final, however, we felt it needed some more tire speed, so we barely touched it trying to make it better, and it went crazy. Looking at the data afterward, if we had left it alone, it probably would have been even worse. We should have been able to run a 6.58 or 6.59 on that run, but it was out of control by the thirty foot mark, locking the tires in and shaking. There wasn't much I could do after that.
"Still, there are a lot of positives that we can take away from this weekend. Our run in the semifinals corrected out to be one of the best we've made all year, and shows tremendous potential. We're also heading into Indy and the first race of the Countdown to Four on a high note. All the way around I'm sure there are a lot of people who would gladly trade places. We're pretty pleased with the month we spent in Reading this weekend, but it's time to take everything we learned here and move on."