Brainerd: Warren Johnson preview

It's a Marriage Made in Horsepower Heaven: The Professor & The GTO GM Performance Parts team to unveil new race car at Brainerd race Sugar Hill, Ga., August 9, 2005 --Two automotive legends will join forces this weekend, as six-time NHRA Pro...

It's a Marriage Made in Horsepower Heaven: The Professor & The GTO
GM Performance Parts team to unveil new race car at Brainerd race

Sugar Hill, Ga., August 9, 2005 --Two automotive legends will join forces this weekend, as six-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson will introduce his new GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO at the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, MN. It is the latest of numerous nameplates "The Professor" has campaigned throughout his illustrious 32-year Pro Stock career, with most having made at least one trip to the winner's circle and all being products of General Motors.

Viewing these varied vehicles as nothing more than tools of the trade, Johnson attaches no emotional value to the rides that have carried him to a class-leading 95 national event wins. However, looking at the preliminary numbers on his latest mount, he is looking forward to getting it out on the race track.

"I believe I've raced almost everything that General Motors has had to offer in Pro Stock over the years, from Chevrolets and Oldsmobiles to the Pontiacs I use today," stated Johnson. "The only exceptions are the one-off Cadillac Eldorado that raced in Gainesville years ago, and the Buick that Buddy Ingersoll tried to run. Fortunately, I was able to win in just about all of them, a trend we plan to continue with this new GM Performance Parts GTO.

"Overall, it has the same aero numbers as the Cutlass, which was a car that was way ahead of its time in terms of its aerodynamic balance. However, the new car has less drag and a smaller frontal area, so it takes significantly less power to push it through the air. Given those numbers, I look for our GTO to be an extremely fast race car.

"Racing a body style that is aerodynamically competitive will help our program from two aspects. First we will have the confidence of being in the most competitive car aero-wise. In addition, we will be racing new tubing, which invariably goes faster. Any way you look at it, it's all good."

Despite racing with an entirely new car, Johnson's approach to this weekend's event remains the same. With only eight races left and in the thick of the championship battle, he knows it is vital to earn as many points as possible. Fortunately, the POWERade Drag Racing Series will be racing a track quite familiar to "The Professor". Located in his native state of Minnesota, WJ will be making his 24th Pro Stock appearance at Brainerd International Raceway, having competed in every NHRA national event held there. With four wins in five final round appearances, he certainly knows his way to the winner's circle, a trip he hopes to repeat this weekend.

"I really don't anticipate much of a learning curve with this new car as people might expect," said Johnson. "With the GTO having identical numbers to the Cutlass, we should be able to refer to our notes from back then in terms of the down force and weight distribution. In addition, the general layout of the chassis is the same as the Grand Am we had been running throughout the year, making the transition somewhat easier."

"Our game plan remains the same as it has been all season, which has obviously been pretty effective. Simply put, we'll make sure our equipment's performance is as good as we can make it, and do whatever we can to win races and the championship.

"The racing surface at Brainerd has gone through so many changes due to the severity of the winters in that part of the country that it's almost like racing on a completely different track every year. The starting line has been redone three or four times since I first raced there in 1982, but the back half has only been resurfaced once. Normally, that would play in our favor, but with the track elevation at over 1,000 feet, we won't have as much power, which makes it easier to adapt to the racetrack. Even so, we know we have the parts in place to make this a very successful debut for the GM Performance Parts GTO, and plan to put them all together this weekend."

Notes on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO Racing team entering the Lucas Oil Nationals:

* WJ is the man in Minnesota: This will be Warren's 24th NHRA appearance at Brainerd International Raceway, where he has four wins in five final round appearances, which is tied with Bruce Allen and Bob Glidden for the most among Pro Stock drivers. In addition, WJ has been the No. 1 qualifier four times in Minnesota, with only two starts outside the top half of the field. In his 22 previous BIR starts, WJ has complied a 41-18 elimination round record for a .695 win percentage.

* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 95 national event victories are the most ever in the history of the Pro Stock division and place him second on the all-time NHRA win list. His most recent win came last month at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO.

* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.679 seconds, Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05

* Career best top speed: 207.50 mph, Englishtown, NJ, 6/19/05

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Bob Glidden , Bruce Allen