Sears Point: K. Johnson, Camaro win

PRO STOCK: KURT JOHNSON TAKES HIS 17TH CAREER WIN, THIRD OF SEASON FOR CAMARO KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, captured his 17th career win, his second of the 2000 season and the first at Sears Point Raceway, by defeating Allen Johnson, a ...


KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, captured his 17th career win, his second of the 2000 season and the first at Sears Point Raceway, by defeating Allen Johnson, a non-relative, in the final round of the Fram Autolite Nationals. Kurt had the benefit of lane choice and used every bit of that advantage to beat A. Johnson to the finish stripe with a margin of victory of .055 of a second. Kurt's streak of quick elapsed times (6.947, 6.994, 6.963 to eliminate Tom Hammonds, Mark Pawuk and Jeg Coughlin) was underlined by his 6.974-second pass at 198.61 mph to A. Johnson's 7.024/196.67. Reaction times were nearly identical: .463 for Kurt, .468 for Allen. This was the Camaro brand's third win of this season. Kurt won in Denver; V. GAINES, WESTERN MOTORSPORTS CAMARO Z28, was the victor in Dallas.

In the semifinal, Kurt had to get past points leader Jeg Coughlin Jr., and he did it in style. Both recorded identical reaction times, .446. But it was the Johnson & Johnson horsepower, developed in the family's Sugar Hill, Ga., raceshop, that helped edge out Jeg at the finish line. Kurt won by two feet with a 6.963/199.55 pass to Jeg's 6.971/198.76.

KURT: NICE JOB: "Considering one Chevrolet had to lose first round, and the other one had to carry the banner the rest of the day." WERE YOU CHASING THIS TRACK ALL DAY LONG? "We tried the clutch, that didn't want to work; we changed gear ratios and that didn't want to work. Finally, we got after the suspension. We have been kind of gun-shy with the car. We didn't want to go out there and shake. We had no idea if it would go down the track in the semifinals. We knew it had to have more direction." ON THE SEMIFINAL RUN AGAINST JEG COUGHLIN: "It was way cool. You look at the slip. It was thousandths (of a second) all the way down the race track. That's great for the fans. I thought I had red-lighted; it was my best light of the weekend and it was the best time to have it. It worked out well. I made a smooth run; it was eight thousandths at the finish line. It's like one of the Indy finals. It was a close race." IS THIS A TURNING POINT IN YOUR SEASON, WITH TWO WINS? "Let's hope so. Nothing lasts forever. Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) had his time, (Ron) Krisher had his time. (We can do well) as long as we can make some good decisions as far as track conditions and atmospheric conditions (are concerned). When everything changes we have to make changes. Maybe we've got something to work with. It seems like it's good enough to win the race." ON RACING ALLEN JOHNSON: "I like tearing him up, and see who's got bragging rights. He's a good racer, good driver, all-around good friend. Whoever wins, whoever loses, we still have a good day." HOW DO YOU FEEL? "Pretty damned satisfied." YOU'RE ONLY THREE POINTS BEHIND DAD (WARREN) IN THE STANDINGS: "That's his fault."


TOM HAMMONDS, WINNEBAGO/GM PERFORMANCE PARTS CAMARO Z28, was defeated in the first round by his Chevrolet teammate KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, when he red-lighted with a .090 reaction time (.400 is perfect). Kurt took the win with a 6.947-second elapsed time at 200.74 mph.

HAMMONDS: "It was just driver error. It's the same thing that I sometimes do in basketball throughout the year. You go up there thinking. Anytime you think too much you will mess up. Instead of doing my normal routine in driving the car, seeing the light and reacting, I kind of guessed and just let the clutch out. It's definitely disappointing. This is still a learning process for us. It's not the first time I have done it; it won't be the last. As many years as we plan on racing Pro Stock, it will happen again sooner or later; hopefully it's a lot later than sooner." WERE YOU INTIMIDATED BEING MATCHED UP WITH KURT? "I grew up against Shaquille O'Neal; it wasn't intimidation. I just think that instead of doing my normal staging process I waited for him to stage and that threw me off rhythm. The one thing I learned in drag racing is that I'm not racing Kurt or anybody else out here; I'm racing myself." WHAT DID YOU DO WHEN YOU REALIZED YOU HAD RED-LIGHTED? "I felt so bad I wanted to turn my car into the wall. But I really didn't want to mess up the Camaro. I knew exactly when it happened. I let out a big yell in the car. I don't think anybody heard me, but I was thinking of asking Rick Stewart (official NHRA starter) to let me try it again, but I don't think he would do that."


No. 1 qualifier for the third straight event WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, defeated Dale Creasy Jr. in a tire-smoking contest in the first round today. Whit out-pedaled Creasy to take the win with a 6.095-second elapsed time at 206.07 mph to Creasy's 6.353/172.08. I nthe second round, Whit wasn't as lucky, as Dean Skuza outran him with a 5.212-second pass at 289.88 mph while Whit again lost traction, slowing to a 6.135/205.04 finish.

BAZEMORE: "After the last two days, I honestly believe we were fortunate to qualify and win a round. I know that sounds unusual from someone who qualified No. 1, but realistically we struggled all weekend and only made the one run on Friday night. Our passes today were mirror images of our last two qualifying attempts. As I've said before, Terry (crew chief Manzer) makes a lot of power, and this weekend we simply ran out of runs trying to harness it. We've obviously got a bug somewhere in the tune-up that we've got to take care of. I know Terry made a lot of drastic changes for the second round today, and it seemed like the car didn't even see them . Obviously, this Kendall/Matco Camaro team has its work cut out for them before the next race in Brainerd."

RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, advanced to the second round after eliminating Del Worsham in the first round from the less-favored right lane. Capps claimed the victory over Worsham with a 5.075-second elapsed time at 303.64 mph (.524 R/T) to Worsham's 5.116/303.50/.485 R/T. He then met up with John Force in the second round, again from the right lane. Force squeaked out the win over Capps by a mere two thousandths of a second in a close Chevy-vs.-Ford match-up. Capps' took off first at the lights with a .497 reaction time to Force's .517, but Force nipped him at the finish with a 5.038/303.98 pass to Capps' 5.156/296.31.

CAPPS: "That first round win was huge, especially running a 5.07 in the right lane. That was a very, very big win to keep our points going and to gain some points on Jerry Toliver. We already had a couple of strikes against us in the second round. We had John Force and we didn't have lane choice. Another strike we had against us is that they have been consistent all weekend. Luckily, Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) found a fuel pump problem Saturday. Also, in the first round the 5.07 didn't show a computer reading. One of the computer wires had actually come loose, so he had no data for the 5.07. He wasn't quite sure whether to get more aggressive down track. We had to talk about the run and he tuned from that. We tried to go out and duplicate, move up a little bit and hope that Force would slow down. It was a close race. He was right next to me, and he just pulled ahead of me at the end. If he had made any mistake we would have been there to take advantage of it. To make two good runs down the right lane -- two in a row -- we showed that we could go down a lane that wasn't quite a lane of choice. That's encouraging. That 5.07 tune-up will be good for Brainerd. The conditions will be humid and pretty warm. the good news is that we gained points on (Jerry) Toliver, the bad news is we let Force move away (in points) a little bit."

JIM EPLER, WWF RACING 'BIG RED MACHINE' CAMARO Z28, went out in the first round, losing to Gary Densham: 5.315/276.24 for Epler; 5.206/285.47 for Densham. SCOTTY CANNON, 'MAD SCIENTIST' CAMARO Z28, lost to John Force in the semifinals (5.091/304.80 for Force; 14.476/40.35 for Cannon) after defeating Cruz Pedregon and Bruce Sarver. BOB GILBERTSON, THINK TANK CAMARO Z28, packed up after losing to Dean Skuza in the first round (5.154/292.27 for Skuza; 8.179/95.17 for Gilbertson).

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Jeg Coughlin , Mark Pawuk , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , John Force , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Tom Hammonds , Jerry Toliver