KJ Gains Ground with Runner-Up Finish in Topeka ACDelco Chevrolet Cobalt pilot Kurt Johnson made the most of his Memorial Day outing on Sunday, powering to a runner-up finish in Sunday's Pro Stock final eliminations of the O'Reilly NHRA ...
KJ Gains Ground with Runner-Up Finish in Topeka
ACDelco Chevrolet Cobalt pilot Kurt Johnson made the most of his Memorial Day outing on Sunday, powering to a runner-up finish in Sunday's Pro Stock final eliminations of the O'Reilly NHRA Summernationals in Topeka, KS. After qualifying ninth, Johnson eliminated Larry Morgan, Erica Enders and Greg Anderson in the early rounds before squaring off against David Connolly in the final.
Despite running in the heat of the day at Heartland Park Topeka and facing a strong headwind, Johnson made his best run of eliminations at 6.836 seconds with a top speed of 201.70 mph. Unfortunately, it was not enough to overcome his opponent's starting line advantage, who used a 6.844-second, 201.34 mph run to hold off Johnson's top end charge.
"Up until the final I consistently had decent lights in the twenties and thirties, so I figured that's what I would have in the final," said Johnson afterward. "It's not that we relaxed or lost focus -- in fact I let the clutch out the same way I had all day. Unfortunately, the tree was a little quick coming on, and I may even have blinked, but the bottom line is that things just didn't work out in the ACDelco Cobalt crew's favor."
Despite the final round disappointment, Johnson will leave the Sunflower State pleased with his team's strong performance. Throughout the day, the Johnson-led crew was on their game, opening with a hole shot victory over veteran Larry Morgan in the first round. After eliminating No. 1 qualifier Erica Enders in the second round, the final obstacle between the Sugar Hill, GA driver and the 63rd final round appearance of his career was rival and defending Pro Stock champion Anderson.
For the third consecutive round, Johnson left the starting line first, with his quick .025 reaction time gaining the advantage by two hundredths of a second. He then used a solid 6.862-second, 200.95 mph pass to defeat Anderson, who posted a quicker 6.843-second elapsed time in the losing cause, sending KJ to his second final round appearance of the 2006 season.
Johnson also took solace in that his impressive showing allowed him to move up two positions in the POWERade championship standings, as well as gain ground on most of his competitors.
"Second place is all right, but we want to win," said Johnson. "However, anytime you can go to the final, it's been a good day. Everyone on the ACDelco Cobalt crew did their job. I hate being the runner-up, especially when you run quicker in the final, but it's better than going out in the first or second round. We gained some points on our competition, and got back on track. I'll kick myself for a little while and go on to the next one.
"Our primary goal leaving here is to continue to have strong performances. We're heading into three races in a row to get to the halfway point, and we're shooting to be in fifth at that point, making our move from there in the second half. Therefore, we'll go back to the shop, address any issues we might have, freshen up our equipment and have it in perfect shape when we get to Chicago (the next race on the schedule). Whenever you don't win, you're disappointed, but we're pretty pleased heading out of Topeka."