Bristol: Warren Johnson preview

Recent Tough Stretch has WJ Motivated to Break Out in Bristol Team preps GM Performance Parts GTO to step up in Thunder Valley Sugar Hill, Ga., July 5, 2007 -- As anyone who has ever participated throughout the realm of sports will tell you,...

Recent Tough Stretch has WJ Motivated to Break Out in Bristol
Team preps GM Performance Parts GTO to step up in Thunder Valley

Sugar Hill, Ga., July 5, 2007 -- As anyone who has ever participated throughout the realm of sports will tell you, there comes a time in one's career where things will simply not go according to plan. From the youngest Little Leaguer to the most experienced superstar, each one has had to deal with not performing to their expectations. In each case, how the competitor has dealt with the down period is just as important as their return to form.

For example, after opening with five top half qualifying performances and a solid elimination round record that included a final round appearance and a climb to fifth in the POWERade points standings during the first seven races, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team have battled to find their rhythm over the last few events. Although some might find this uncharacteristic showing frustrating, the six-time champion prefers instead to focus his energies on paying attention to every detail in his racing program. As the straight-line set heads to Bristol, TN for this weekend's O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals, he is determined to start heading in a positive direction.

"Our last few races have really brought out the drag in drag racing, but we're not about to let it get us down," quipped Johnson. "Certainly, it would be easy to look at what we've done of late and get frustrated by it, but being frustrated fixes nothing. If anything, this experience has made us even more motivated. We're just going to work and fix things.

"With so little time between races, we can't really make any major changes to our GM Performance Parts GTO, but, fortunately, we not that far off. For example, last weekend, we were near the top of the page during Saturday's qualifying sessions, but didn't move up because it was so much hotter than the day before. Then on Sunday, we had the wheelie bars a little too high, so it shook the tires, which really didn't matter because I was a couple thousandths too quick on the tree. These are the little things that add up.

"On a positive note, they can also be easily fixed. So, even though we will be bringing the same ugly girl to the dance again this weekend, I think we have a few things up our sleeve that may just make her a little more attractive this time out."

Under normal circumstances, Johnson could look forward to racing on a familiar track on which he has experienced success, having participated in each of the six previous NHRA national event visits to Bristol Dragway, winning twice, as well as scoring six wins in IHRA competition during the 70's & 80's. However, the first 700 feet of concrete will be completely new and untested prior to this weekend, creating an unknown quantity for all involved.

"Although we've been successful on numerous occasions in the past at Bristol, this time we are facing a complete unknown," said Johnson. "Since they didn't even start putting rubber down until a few days ago, we'll have no idea until we get there as to what kind of set-up we'll need to get down it. Fortunately, between myself, (son) Kurt and Terry (crew chief Adams), we have a lot of experience on all sorts of tracks, so together I'm confident we'll come up with a solid game plan.

"Besides, Bristol Dragway is one of Bruton Smith's tracks, so we know Jeff Byrd (president of Bristol Dragway) and his staff will do everything possible to give us a good track to race on. In the meantime, we have to do whatever's necessary to get pointed back in the right direction. I guess you could say that lately, we've only been circling the target, so now it's time to hit the bullseye."

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson