Allen Johnson blog: Schooling NASCAR’s Kurt Busch

The holiday break was a little different for me, with a lot of snow and a lot of cold weather at home in Tennessee. I had the chance to do a lot of sledding in the mountains near my house in Greeneville. We got about a six- or eight-incher of a storm on Christmas Eve. It was neat, but cold as heck, with temperatures around zero. There’s a mountain I can see right from my front porch, and we went up there with sleds, tubes and four-wheelers, made our own trails and just had a blast.

My wife Pam and I sort of laid back and had a quiet holiday with family. There was a lot of eating during Christmas, and of course getting to watch my grandsons get their presents was a fun time. For New Year’s Eve we really didn’t do much. Pam and I went to our country club, ate dinner and stopped at a place that had some music for a bit. We were home by 10 p.m. with some friends to watch the celebrations on TV.

I started the New Year off right—with a test session. I’ve been down in Bradenton, Fla. with my J&J Racing team this week, making runs in the Dodge Avenger Vinnie Deceglie drove last year. My crew has modified it to be closer to the new Mopar Dodge Avenger chassis we’ll be taking delivery of later this week. The session has helped me get a feel for the changes we have made on the new chassis. V. Gaines has also been here, as he’ll once again be driving a Mopar Hemi-powered Dodge Avenger come the start of the season.

The Bradenton sessions are doing two things—giving us some results from our chassis and allowing some seat time for a special guest—NASCAR star Kurt Busch. He made about seven attempts as of Wednesday, including a 330-foot run, a half-track run, several launches, and two full runs, a 6.57 and a 6.60 e.t., both at over 210 mph. He’s felt the tires shake, had the chutes not deploy, forcing him to take manual action—he’s had quite a few incidents to learn from.

This testing has been real good for Kurt, providing him a chance to earn his NHRA Pro Stock license and get some seat time in an NHRA Pro Stock car at full power. He’s completed all his requirements for a license and just needs to get his number from the NHRA and he’s ready to go for Gainesville. Kurt’s got a really good feel; any good race car driver can be successful in a different car if they listen and focus. If I hop in a different car, it doesn’t take me long to catch on if I’ve got a good attitude and listen. Kurt’s been very impressive, and I look forward to seeing him compete in Pro Stock at the Gatornationals. I just hope he doesn’t beat me!

I’ve got another test session scheduled in Bradenton with our new Mopar Dodge Avenger chassis for Jan.17, once my team has dropped in the engines and prepped the cars. I feel like we’ve made some positive changes that should make the Mopar Dodge even better in 2011. We’ll run as many times as needed to fine-tune our Pro Stocker and make sure we launch out of the gate strong on Feb. 24 at the NHRA Winternationals.

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