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Keeping Pace

Wed., June 10, 2009, 11 p.m.

KJ confident heading to Englishtown

Kurt Johnson's AC Delco Chevrolet jumps off the line. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (The Spokesman-Review)
Kurt Johnson's AC Delco Chevrolet jumps off the line. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (The Spokesman-Review)

Kurt Johnson is looking to capture his first win of the season at the Englishtown quarter-mile, and he is confident that the moves being made now to improve his car's performance will deliver long-term benefits for the remainder of the season.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

Englishtown, N.J.– Building on last weekend's momentum at the Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill., and continuing the strong, steady performance of his ACDelco Chevrolet will be Kurt Johnson's goal this weekend when he and his ACDelco crew converge on Old Bridge Township Raceway for the UA SuperNationals on June 11 – 14. Johnson is looking to capture his first win of the season at the Englishtown quarter-mile, and he is confident that the moves being made now to improve his car's performance will deliver long-term benefits for the remainder of the season.

"We may not be the fastest car out there right now, but we know this ACDelco Chevrolet is good enough to win races," Johnson said. "We've tried a lot of different combinations on the car, tested a lot of parts and components, and through a methodical trial-and-error process we're beginning to zero in on a combination that shows a lot of promise. Our consistency came together last weekend at Chicago, and when you can combine that with an increase in performance then you're going to see an overall improvement in the program."

Johnson has been to the finals twice at Englishtown; in 1993 when he was runner-up to his dad, Warren Johnson, and in 2004 when he was runner-up to Jason Line. Johnson has also earned No. 1 qualifying honors three times at Old Bridge Township Raceway (1994, '98, 2005), but his most notable exploit at this venue came during a cool, spring Friday evening a little more than 15 years ago. On May 20, 1994, the 31-year-old, second-year competitor became the first Pro Stock driver in NHRA history to make a quarter-mile run quicker than seven seconds when he stopped the clocks at 6.988 seconds. It was also Johnson's first national e.t. record.

"We went into that race on Thursday," Johnson recalled. "It was cold, there was hail coming down, we had high barometric pressure, and nobody had run in the six-second zone. If it dried up, quit raining, and cleared up, we knew that somebody had a shot to run six seconds in New Jersey.

"We made a terrible run the first session, came back, it was like an 8 o'clock session that night, and with 30-plus Pro Stockers there, it took about 40 minutes to run the session. There were only two or three pairs of cars behind me, and by the time I ran, the air was absolutely the best it could get. When I let the clutch out – I was driving a Cutlass at the time – it had the wheels in the air, it was smooth, it was absolutely flawless and I think I out-qualified the field by two or three hundredths at the time. Dad was swinging for the six-second club, Darrell Alderman, Scott Geoffrion, everybody was pitching their best and I was the lucky one to get there first."

At the series’ last race in Chicago, Johnson advanced to the semifinal round, climbed to seventh place in the points standings, and was generally pleased with the steady improvement showed by his ACDelco Chevrolet throughout the course of the weekend. During the final three rounds of qualifying, Johnson posted the fourth-quickest run of each session with all three e.t.s in the 6.62 range, and with a total deviation in the three runs of only .005 of a second.

"We may have broken the tide and we're hoping we can carry it over to Englishtown," Johnson said. "The ACDelco Chevrolet really acted well this past weekend and that's what we were after. We were pretty pleased to go three 6.62s in a row. That's how we won the Full Throttle championship last year was with consistency. If you're going to win these races you have to be consistent and I think we have a pretty good package here."

The 40th annual United Association NHRA SuperNationals on June 11 – 14 at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., is the 11th race on the 24-event NHRA Full Throttle Series tour.

"We've had a lot of success over the years at Englishtown, won a lot of rounds, and broke the six-second barrier there, but a win this weekend would be a terrific shot in the arm for this ACDelco race team. Everyone here continues to work hard to achieve that – it's why we race – and after the way we ran last weekend in Chicago, I'm pretty confident that we're going to get there soon."




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.