KJ Takes Points Lead with Semifinal Showing in Topeka Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team had a productive day on Sunday at the O'Reilly Summer Nationals in Topeka, KS, with their semifinal finish catapulting them into the POWERade...
KJ Takes Points Lead with Semifinal Showing in Topeka
Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team had a productive day on Sunday at the O'Reilly Summer Nationals in Topeka, KS, with their semifinal finish catapulting them into the POWERade Championship points lead. Ironically, the last time Johnson had been atop the Pro Stock standings was exactly five years ago to the day, following his 27th national event win in Chicago. More importantly, however, KJ's achievement comes at the midpoint of the NHRA's regular season known as the Countdown to Ten.
Starting from the third position, Johnson defeated archrival Greg Anderson and V. Gaines in the early rounds before squaring off against veteran Ron Krisher in the semifinals. Racing in the less-preferred left hand lane, which saw four of the last seven Pro Stock competitors on that side forced to shut off early, Johnson made his best run of the day, crossing the finish line in 6.755-seconds with a top speed of 204.54 mph. Even so, Krisher was able to gain the narrow victory with a 6.750-second, 203.83 mph pass. However, the fact that his solid showing had allowed him to gain valuable ground on many of his top competitors did not go unnoticed by the second-generation racer.
"Facing Greg (Anderson) in the first round was huge. Even though his car hasn't been running that well, we thought he would pick it up for the first round, and he's been doing a good job driving, so we had our work cut out for us. To beat him was a big lift for the entire ACDelco crew, although I didn't know I had won until Justin (KJ crewmember Belfance) came up and told me at the top end, because the win light on the wall was burned out in the left lane.
"Obviously, we got a lucky break when V. (Gaines) red-lit in the second round, because I went into severe tire shake at the hit of the throttle. Fortunately, I was able to see my scoreboard win light come on, and got out of the throttle.
"Knowing we'd be back in the left lane for the semis, we made some changes, using some things we had used on previous ACDelco Cobalts, and it definitely responded, making our quickest run of the day. Although we're happy to rebound so well after not making it down the track in the second round, we're here to win, so we're disappointed not to even make it to the final.
"Still, it's a good feeling to be the points leader, but that only really matters at the end of the year. We'll definitely have to stay on our game and see if we can keep this ACDelco Cobalt on top, grabbing the 30 bonus points at the start of the Countdown to One in Charlotte and moving forward from there. Fortunately, I know I have the car and crew to do it."