Texaz Kurt & Warren Johnson report

The following are post-race releases on Kurt and Warren Johnson at the NHRA Chief Nationals in Dallas, Texas, on October 10-13. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments, or let me know if you would prefer...

The following are post-race releases on Kurt and Warren Johnson at the NHRA Chief Nationals in Dallas, Texas, on October 10-13.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments, or let me know if you would prefer not to receive this material via e-mail.

Thanks! Rick Voegelin High Performance Communications Phone: 408-761-2201 FAX: 408-761-2454 E-mail: 72467.3005@compuserve.com



K.J. in Third Final in Four Years at Texas Motorplex; Climbs to Fourth in Points Standings

Dallas -- "I love Texas!" Kurt Johnson declared as he prepared his Delco Freedom Battery Firebird for the final round of Pro Stock eliminations at the NHRA Chief Nationals on October 13. With three final-round appearances in four years at the Texas Motorplex -- including a pair of Chief Nationals victories in 1993 and 1995 -- Kurt's enthusiasm for the Lone Star state was certainly understandable.

A record crowd of 135,400 fans turned out to watch this year's edition of the Chief Nationals. They saw Kurt defeat his father Warren in the first round when a malfunctioning rev limiter caused W.J. to redlight before the Christmas Tree was activated. Kurt dispatched Rickie Smith in the second round, recording a near-perfect .412-second reaction time against "Tricky Rickie." Johnson then defeated Jerry Eckman on a holeshot in the semi-final with a 7.066 elapsed time to Eckman's quicker 7.054. That feat earned Johnson a $500 Slick 50 Performance Award.

Kurt's final-round opponent was Jim Yates, the newly crowned Pro Stock champion. "Who would have thought I'd be in the final again after qualifying 15th?" K.J. mused. His quest for a third Chief Nationals title ended abruptly when Yates grabbed a .02-second advantage at the starting line and covered the quarter-mile in 7.006 seconds, the quickest e.t. of eliminations. Kurt trailed at 7.083/195.35 mph.

"I can't complain about a runner-up finish," said Johnson after his fourth final-round appearance of the season. "We knew that Jim could run a good number, so we made an aggressive move with the transmission ratio before the final round to try to keep up with him -- and I guess we beat ourselves. The good news is that I moved up to fourth in the Winston points today. With another performance like this one at Pomona we could finish the season in third. That's our goal now."

Kurt's final opportunity to earn points will be at the season-ending Winston Select Finals in Pomona, Calif., on October 24-27.

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Broken Switch Short Circuits Warren's Championship Run; W.J. Clinches Runner-up Finish in Title Race

Dallas, Texas -- Warren Johnson got an early start on the 1997 racing season when he debuted his new GM Performance Parts Pontiac at the NHRA Chief Nationals, held at the Texas Motorplex on October 11-13. Johnson's Firebird ran 7.032/196.76 in its maiden run in NHRA competition.

On his second run, Warren had a close encounter with the concrete guardrail as his car swerved violently at the finish line and brushed the unforgiving wall. The damage proved to only superficial, however. "Maybe this will be the start of my new career in Winston Cup!" Johnson joked. "That was a steering wheel test for the new car -- and it passed."

Johnson ran 6.979 at 197.45 mph on his third run to nail down the No. 2 qualifying spot behind points-leader Jim Yates at 6.975. W.J.'s 197.45 mph clocking was the event's fastest speed in Pro Stock.

"It looks like we put the right bolts in the right holes," Warren reported after his 22nd six-second run in NHRA competition. "This is definitely a faster race car than our old one -- we ran the quickest e.t. in the last 330-feet that we've ever run in a Firebird. Now it's a matter of gaining experience with the car."

A broken rev limiter switch ended Warren Johnson's quest for a fourth NHRA Pro Stock championship when he redlighted in his first-round match with his 33-year-old son, Kurt. Warren's loss clinched the championship for Yates, and ensured that W.J. would finish as runner-up in the title chase for the seventh time in his 21-year career in NHRA drag racing.

"Unbelievable!" was Johnson's terse description. "A brand-new switch failed. I staged, floored the accelerator, and the engine went to 9500 rpm. It's unbelievable that an $80 switch can go bad -- but I guess that's why things go wrong even on the Space Shuttle.

"This season we've broken a rotor, a driveshaft, a wheelie bar, and a rev limiter in the first round of eliminations," Warren reported. "Those are four things I guarantee we won't break next year. Unfortunately there are about a half-million individual parts in a race car, which means we've still got 499,996 pieces to work on."

With the 1996 championship already decided, Warren Johnson will shift his focus to the 1997 title race at the Winston Select Finals, to be held on October 24-27 at Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

          NHRA PRO STOCK STANDINGS (after 18 of 19 rounds):
          1.  Jim Yates       1648
          2.  Warren Johnson  1341
          3.  Mike Edwards    988
          4.  Kurt Johnson    955
          5.  Steve Schmidt   930

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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 15-Oct-1996

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Steve Schmidt , Rickie Smith , Mike Edwards