ACDelco Cobalt crew looks to defend 2005 win at sponsor's race

In a city known for its high-stakes gambling, Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team have gone from being a long-shot to a favorite.  During the NHRA's first five visits to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the second-generation racer was not much of a factor, missing one start and advancing to the second round twice.

However, in the subsequent seven races, the red, white and blue crew came into its own, scoring two wins in five final round appearances.  Entering this weekend's ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Johnson will be challenged to extend to his Vegas round-win streak to twelve and score his third consecutive win in the desert.

"We've been fortunate to win the last two races in Las Vegas, but things have changed since then," detailed Johnson.  "Even though we have a recipe book from our wins on The Strip, we're going in with a new ACDelco Cobalt, which has a little different set-up.   Our engine package is also slightly different, so, it's still a matter of adapting our combination to the air and the racetrack better than our competitors.  It's not a sure thing by any means, but this crew is up to doing whatever it takes to get it done."

Naturally, when the event's title sponsor is the same as the one on the side of your race car, the stakes are raised even higher.  In addition, for the second time in the last four years, ACDelco will be combining their national convention with the Las Vegas race, bringing over 5,000 customers, distributors and executives out to the track throughout the course of the weekend.  Downplaying the existence of any added pressure, Johnson will take the weekend's events in stride, welcoming what he sees as added support.  Following several scheduled appearances at the convention in the days leading up to the race, on Friday his focus will be riveted on the competition as he looks to extract the maximum performance from his car and the Nevada quarter-mile.

"There's no denying it's a big race for ACDelco - it's exciting to have them all there cheering us on," said Johnson.  "With this being our sponsor's race, you certainly want everything to be right, but we don't prepare any differently than we do for any other race.  We'll test before heading west, and even though the weather might be a little too cool to get a proper set-up for the race, we'll make sure our ACDelco Cobalt is running properly and goes straight down the track. 

"We'll get to town a little early to join in the activities at the convention.  We'll also unveil the special paint scheme on Friday, with Billy Gibbons coming out to the track on Sunday.  Other than that, it will be like any other race, except we'll have the luxury of our own cheering section.

"We feel good going into Vegas.  We're confident that we have a race car that can win - it's up to us to get it to winner's circle.  We're going to do whatever we can to reward them with a win like we did a year ago.   It'll be a busy week, but it promises to be a lot of fun.  Let's just say we like our odds."


Quick Notes on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Cobalt Racing team entering

The ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals:

KJ Has Been Strong on The Strip:  This will be KJ's 13th career appearance in Las Vegas, where he has two wins (at last year's event and in this year's spring race), and a 20-9 elimination round record for a .690 win percentage. 

KJ's Qualifying Stats in Las Vegas:  In his 11 previous career starts at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kurt has one No. 1 qualifying performance (in 2002), seven starts in the top half of the field, and an average starting position of 6.91

One year ago - Defending Champion:  Kurt qualified second with an elapsed time of 6.820 seconds and a top speed of 202.76 mph, and defeated Bob Panella, Jeg Coughlin, Erica Enders in the early rounds before using a .002 reaction time to defeat Greg Anderson on a 6.839 - 6.821 second holeshot.

Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.613 sec., Richmond, VA, 10/13/06

Career best top speed:  209.26 mph, Richmond, VA, 10/15/06

Thanks to: Jon Knapp