KJ Solidifies Countdown Standing with Quarterfinal Finish in Sonoma After qualifying tenth, ACDelco Cobalt racer Kurt Johnson entered Sunday's final eliminations of the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals looking to win the race and better his chances...
KJ Solidifies Countdown Standing with Quarterfinal Finish in Sonoma
After qualifying tenth, ACDelco Cobalt racer Kurt Johnson entered Sunday's final eliminations of the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals looking to win the race and better his chances of qualifying for the second phase of the Countdown to the Championship. In the first round against good friend and rival Richie Stevens, he got off to a good start, combining a nearly four hundredths of a second starting line advantage with a 6.663-second, 207.62 mph pass to score a hole shot win over Stevens, who posted a quicker 6.645-second time in the losing effort.
This allowed KJ to pad his lead over one of his closest pursuers with only two events remaining before the first cut down, and set the stage for a second round encounter with Stevens' teammate and No. 2 qualifier Allen Johnson. Once again, Johnson was on his game at the line, using a tremendous .003 reaction time to leave five hundredths of a second ahead of his opponent.
However, just as it seemed he would advance to his second semifinal in as many weeks, a freak occurrence with the shift mechanism slowed his progress, and although he was able to recover and post a solid 6.722-second time, it was not enough to hold off his rival's 6.660-second charge. Despite the initial disappointment, Johnson still left the California wine country pleased to have improved his position in this year's title fight, gaining a full round of competition on every one behind him in the standings.
"We didn't make as good a run in the first round against Richie as we would have liked, but got off the starting line first to get the win, which is what really matters. Even though the track got worse, we still felt that we could pick our ACDelco Cobalt up a little bit, or at least run just as well for the second round. I knew I would need a little bit on the tree against Allen, I got up on the wheel and came up .003, getting five hundredths on him.
"Unfortunately, it dead headed going into third gear, which is a fluke deal that happens to all of us every couple hundred runs. The easiest way to put it is that we had everything we needed to win that round, but it just wouldn't go in third gear.
"Obviously, we would have liked to win the race and put 80 points on the cars that are close behind us, but for now, we'll have to settle for gaining one round on them and trying to do better in Brainerd two weeks from now."