Seattle: Kurt Johnson preview

KJ & Pacific Raceways Have a Permanent Bond ACDelco Crew Returns to Site of First NHRA National Event Win Sugar Hill, Ga., July 20, 2005 - Over the course of the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season, drivers and teams will arrive at ...

KJ & Pacific Raceways Have a Permanent Bond
ACDelco Crew Returns to Site of First NHRA National Event Win

Sugar Hill, Ga., July 20, 2005 - Over the course of the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season, drivers and teams will arrive at a racetrack with which they have a special connection. It might be located close to their home or the team's shop, or could be the site of a particularly memorable performance, good or bad. Whatever the reason, each time they pull into the front gate at that particular facility, the memories will return as if they had just happened.

Such is the case for ACDelco Cobalt pilot Kurt Johnson and Pacific Raceways, site of this weekend's Carquest Auto Parts Nationals. It was twelve years ago that a heralded young rookie from Sugar Hill, GA who at that point was known more for being the son of defending Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson, first appeared in the Pacific Northwest. He had already shown flashes of the success that was to come, with three final round appearances in his first eleven races.

However, it was on that mid-summer weekend in the outskirts of Seattle that he put it all together, qualifying third and powering through four veterans (including his famous father) to score the first NHRA national event win of his career en route to being named Rookie of the Year.

"Naturally, every time we come back to Seattle, I remember that first win," said Johnson. "Even with the acheivements that we have experienced since then, as anyone will tell you, the first one always has a special place in your mind.

"But a lot has changed since then. The cars have gotten faster, the competition has gotten tighter, and they've even resurfaced the old race track, turning one of our most challenging and bumpy racing surfaces into one of the smoothest on the circuit. The one thing that hasn't changed, however, is this ACDelco Cobalt Racing team's desire to win."

Of course, previous accomplishments at the Kent quarter-mile have little influence on how the team will do this weekend. Coming off a win and two semi-final finishes in their last three races, Johnson & Co. have started to make their way back into the thick of the championship battle. But, with the number of remaining races starting to dwindle, they know that every opportunity to advance must be maximized.

"The best way to make up ground is to win races, scoring more points than anyone else," stated Johnson. "The good news is that we know our ACDelco Cobalt is capable of winning every race we enter, as we showed in St. Louis. But as close as the competition has gotten in Pro Stock, a fast car alone doesn't guarantee a trip to the winner's circle. You have to have the complete package with everyone on the crew and back at the shop doing their job to the best of their ability, avoiding mistakes, and even having a little luck thrown in.

"The forecast is calling for cooler temperatures, which means it will be fast. Coming from the thin air in Denver, we'll be making substantially more power than we were a week ago, which will require a completely different tune-up, and the team that is best able to adapt to the new conditions will have the greatest chance for success.

"Fortunately, our ACDelco Cobalt has been good in telling us what it needs, and responding to whatever changes we make. We'll look at our notes, come up with a starting tune-up for Friday afternoon, and work from there. This will be our 13th race at Pacific Raceways, and so far we've won every six years, so we're looking to keep things on schedule this weekend. We're definitely ready to win again."

Notes on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team entering the Carquest Auto Parts Nationals:

* KJ Knows How to Win in Washington: This will be Kurt's 13th appearance at Pacific Raceways, where he has two wins in 1993 and 1999, and a strong 23-9 elimination round record in his 11 previous starts.

* Kurt Starts Strong in Seattle: In 11 starts at the Kent quarter-mile, Kurt has one No. 1 qualifying performance in 1997, and only one start outside the top half of the field, with an average starting position of 4.09.

* One year ago: Kurt qualified tenth with an elapsed time of 6.801 seconds and a top speed of 203.84 mph, but fell in the first round.

* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.671 sec., Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05

* Career best top speed: 207.13 mph, Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05


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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson