Seattle: Kurt Chronicles - Seattle Edition

THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest NHRA Nationals, Seattle, July 27-29 Kurt Picks Up Speed On Run To Seattle It's literally all downhill from here for Kurt Johnson and ...

THE KURT CHRONICLES: Kurt Johnson ACDelco News & Notes for the Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest NHRA Nationals, Seattle, July 27-29

Kurt Picks Up Speed On Run To Seattle

It's literally all downhill from here for Kurt Johnson and his ACDelco Cavalier Pro Stock team. After a runner-up finish to his father Warren at mile-high Bandimere Speedway in Denver on Sunday, K.J. and company are coasting to the Washington coastline for the Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest NHRA Nationals at evergreen Seattle International Raceway this weekend.

A dynamometer measures horsepower and a barometer records atmospheric pressure, but the only way to gauge a race team's momentum is by its performance. With a semifinal finish in Pomona on July 7 and a runner-up showing at the Mile-High Nationals last week, Johnson has clearly recovered from his midseason slump.

Johnson's last loss in a final round came at the 1999 Fram Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, Calif. Since then he enjoyed a perfect 7-0 final-round record over a span of nearly two years - until he faced his dad in Denver. Kurt had an unobstructed view of Warren's record-setting 86th career victory as he trailed his father across the finish line by .016 seconds.

"Dad made drag racing history," Kurt noted. "Too bad it was at my expense!"

Kurt will have to cope with vastly different conditions in Washington this weekend. The thin air at Bandimere makes horsepower elusive for the Pro Stock contingent, while the oxygen-rich atmosphere of verdant Seattle International Raceway acts like a supercharger for a naturally aspirated engine. While Bandimere has more bite than a mountain lion, Seattle is notorious for the undulations in its unfavored left lane.

"Seattle's starting line is phenomenal, but the back half is a bumpy ride," Johnson noted. "We'll have to crank up the rear spoiler to keep the car hooked up going over the speed bumps.

"The tires we're running this year have the same construction that Richie Stevens used last year when he won in Seattle," Kurt explained. "They're less susceptible to tire shake."

Seattle was the site of Johnson's first national event victory in his rookie season in 1993. K.J. defeated his father for the first time in national event competition with a holeshot in the semifinal round, then beat Mark Pawuk in the money round. He won again at SIR in 1999 over Jim Yates and finished as runner-up twice (in 1996 to Mike Edwards and in 1998 to W.J.).

Warren didn't tally his first NHRA victory until he was 39 years old. Kurt, 38, already has 22 national event trophies in his collection. As W.J. observed, records are meant to be broken - and if K.J. can maintain his winning pace, he could be the driver who keeps the record for Pro Stock victories in the Johnson family. <pre> KURT JOHNSON'S NORTHWEST NHRA NATIONALS RECORD

Year  Qual.  Result
1993    4    Winner (over Pawuk)
1994    7    Second Round
1995    5    Semi Final
1996    6    Runner-up (to Edwards)
1997    1    Semi Final
1998    3    Runner-up (to W. Johnson)
1999    2    Winner (over Yates)
2000    2    Semi Final

-GM Racing/KC-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Mike Edwards