Sears Point: Kurt Johnson wins Autolite Nationals

SONOMA, Calif. - Kurt Johnson improved on his runner-up finish in last year's Autolite Nationals with a final-round victory today over Allen Johnson at Sears Point Raceway. Johnson notched his second victory in the last three races, bookending...

SONOMA, Calif. - Kurt Johnson improved on his runner-up finish in last year's Autolite Nationals with a final-round victory today over Allen Johnson at Sears Point Raceway. Johnson notched his second victory in the last three races, bookending the three-race "Western Swing" with wins in Denver and Sonoma, Calif. With a semi-final finish in Seattle last weekend, Kurt tallied ten round wins in three races, the best record on the tour.

"It was a battle all day," said Kurt. "We changed clutches, changed transmissions, and changed the suspension to get down this track. My hat's off to the ACDelco team."

Johnson notched his 17th career national event victory over Allen Johnson (no relation) in his 32nd final-round appearance. Kurt raced to a 6.974-second elapsed time at 198.61 mph to Allen's 7.024/196.67. The margin of victory was .055 seconds.

Kurt defeated Tom Hammonds, Mark Pawuk, and points leader Jeg Coughlin Jr. en route to the final. He is fourth in the Winston NHRA championship standings, just three points behind his father Warren, after 14 of 23 races.

"We all put our heads together to figure out how to get the ACDelco Camaro to go down this race track," said Johnson. "When the weather changes and the track changes, you have to make adjustments - and you can't be afraid to make big adjustments. The competition is tough out there. That semi-final race against Jeg Coughlin was like a final round at Indy."

Kurt qualified in the No. 4 spot, the eighth straight year that he has qualified in the top half of the field at the Autolite Nationals. He topped 200 mph on the tricky Sears Point asphalt, stopping the timers at 200.74 mph in his first-round victory over NBA basketball star Tom Hammonds.

Johnson will return to his Minnesota birthplace in two weeks where he will attempt to continue his hot streak at the Colonel's Truck Accessories Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., on August 18-20.

<pre> KURT JOHNSON RACE RESULTS: Qualifying: Kurt Johnson qualified No. 4 at 6.947/199.79 Eliminations: First Round: Kurt Johnson (6.947/200.74) defeated Tom Hammonds (9.520/98.12 - foul) Second Round: Kurt Johnson (6.994/199.49) defeated Mark Pawuk (8.826/102.80) Semi-Final: Kurt Johnson (6.963/199.55) defeated Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.971/198.76) Final Round: Kurt Johnson (6.974/198.61) defeated Allen Johnson (7.024/196.67)

Low ET: Warren Johnson, 6.896 seconds (track record) Top Speed: Warren Johnson, 201.16 mph (track record)

POINTS RACE: After 14 of 23 events) Driver Wins Points 1. Jeg Coughlin Jr. 6 1,195 2. Ron Krisher 2 953 3. Warren Johnson 1 896 4. Kurt Johnson 2 893 5. Troy Coughlin 0 772

</pre> NEXT RACE:

Colonel's Truck Accessories Nationals, Aug. 18-20, Brainerd, Minn.
TV: TNN, Aug. 20, 4:30-6 p.m. (ET)

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Ron Krisher , Tom Hammonds , Allen Johnson