The Professor is Well-Versed on Winning in Dallas GM Performance Parts crew looks for sixth win at concrete quarter-mile Sugar Hill, Ga., September 20, 2006 -- Throughout his stellar career, GM Performance Parts GTO racer Warren Johnson has ...
The Professor is Well-Versed on Winning in Dallas
GM Performance Parts crew looks for sixth win at concrete quarter-mile
Sugar Hill, Ga., September 20, 2006 -- Throughout his stellar career, GM Performance Parts GTO racer Warren Johnson has raced on virtually every type of racing surface. From his early days at Minnesota Dragways to the state-of-the-art facilities on today's POWERade Drag Racing Series circuit, WJ has adapted to them all, winning at virtually every track on which he has set foot.
"Over the years I have raced on just about every type of surface, including an occasional unplanned excursion on grass, as well as a few other tracks that might make some of today's drivers reconsider their career choice," kidded Johnson. "I've seen it all and done it all, with about the only thing I haven't raced on is mud.
"For the most part, the NHRA tracks have been among the best available overall, as well as select stops on the IHRA circuit, including Rockingham (Dragway) Norwalk (Raceway Park), and Darlington, which were pretty good when I first started out. To say the least, it's been a rather remarkable experience, which has served me well over the years, helping to adapt to whatever is thrown our way."
Among the many tracks on Johnson's resume is the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, TX, site of this weekend's O'Reilly Fall Nationals. With its trademark racing surface made entirely of concrete, it is capable of handling all the horsepower the "factory hot rods" can dish out. With five wins and eleven final round appearances in his previous visits, Johnson leads all Pro Stock competitors in success on the Ennis quarter-mile, making him uniquely qualified to comment on what it takes to win there. As "The Professor" explains, the car must be properly set up and the driver must be on his game to take advantage of what the track will give.
"The Texas Motorplex is a rather unique track, not only in that it is concrete all the way to the finish line, but that it also has a notoriously narrow groove," detailed Johnson. "With the high amount of traction that is normally available on the starting line, if you make a straight clean run, it is as good as it gets.
"However, if for some reason you get out of the groove, it is notoriously slippery, because very few cars get out there and put down rubber. An extreme example of what can happen is last year's dramatic accident between Bruce Allen and Kenny Koretsky when Bruce got out of the groove. The bottom line is that it's a pretty decent racetrack, but you had better mind your P's and Q's, because if you have a car that wanders, you could be in trouble. This is one track that can be very fast as well as very dangerous."
Arriving in the Lone Star State with their sights set on a sixth Ennis win, Johnson and his young GM Performance Parts crew come armed with a new and relatively untested GTO. Although this will be only their second national event with this current chassis, the six-time champion remains optimistic about his chances.
"Although we have limited experience with this new GM Performance Parts GTO, we still have a pretty good idea of what it needs, because it is basically identical to Kurt's ACDelco Cobalt," said Johnson. "They were built to our specifications by Jerry Haas, giving them different characteristics from his standard models. Fortunately, Kurt has more time on his car, and it came around relatively quickly, so we have pretty much taken his notes and run with them.
"As soon as time permits, we'll do some experimentation of our own to see where the boundaries are, but for now, we'll stick to the basics. The good news is that it already seems to be better than the car it replaced. I think we're headed in the right direction with the engine and chassis tune-up, and now it's a matter of adapting the other equipment to it so it can perform at its best. We're looking forward to seeing what we can do this weekend."
Quick Notes on Warren Johnson & the GM Performance Parts GTO team entering
The 21st annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals:
WJ Has Been a Top Hand in Dallas: This will be Warren's 24th career NHRA national event at the Texas Motorplex. In his previous 23 starts, he has five wins (which is the most by any Pro Stock driver) in eleven final round appearances, and a 44-17 elimination round record for a .721 win percentage. WJ's most recent Dallas win came in 1999, when he defeated Jim Yates in the final.
WJ Normally Starts Near the Top at the 'Plex: In 23 Texas Motorplex starts, WJ has eleven No. 1 qualifying performances (including five in a row from 1991-1995), 18 starts in the top three positions and a stellar 3.26 average starting position. In fact, in his first 17 races on the concrete quarter-mile, WJ qualified lower than second only once.