Waiting until the last moment, WJ Qualifies Eighth in Dallas Entering the final qualifying session of the O'Reilly Fall Nationals in Ennis, TX, GM Performance Parts pilot Warren Johnson seemed to have little chance of making his way into ...
Waiting until the last moment, WJ Qualifies Eighth in Dallas
Entering the final qualifying session of the O'Reilly Fall Nationals in Ennis, TX, GM Performance Parts pilot Warren Johnson seemed to have little chance of making his way into Sunday's final eliminations. After falling shy of earning a spot during the earlier sessions when the atmospheric conditions were better for the normally-aspirated Pro Stock cars, Johnson faced the unenviable task of having one last attempt to record an elapsed time quicker than the 6.715-second "bump" spot in the middle of a sunny afternoon with temperatures in the 70s, conditions which were not nearly as conducive to low elapsed times and top speeds.
Further adding to the drama, just as WJ was about to run, an oil down by a previous competitor forced him to wait an extra few minutes, during which time his crew unexpectedly worked on his race car, going so far as to remove the nose and the hood scoop, finishing just in time for Johnson to roll to the line.
Responding to the challenge as he has done so many times in his illustrious career, The Professor blasted through the quarter-mile in a stout 6.696 seconds with a top speed of 206.76 mph to place his sleek new GTO in the eighth starting spot.
"To be brutally honest, three of our four runs were rather pathetic, and the last one had a little melodrama. Basically, we were off in our set-up for the two good sessions. Fortunately, we were able to get some data from our run this morning, even though it wasn't quick enough to get in the field, and used it to get ourselves qualified on that last run.
"We were able to run a good top speed this morning, but didn't get through the mid-section as well as we would have liked, partly due to our being the first pair of cars to run, which was right after they sprayed the track (with traction compound) and didn't fully rub it down. As a result, it was pretty greasy, and we spun the tires pretty hard.
"We came back this afternoon, changed the chassis around significantly, as well as the gearing and weight distribution, going back to a known combination we had run on a track quite similar to this one. Surprisingly, the result was within two thousandths of the previous run with that set-up, so it seems we've gotten this GM Performance Parts GTO back to where it needs to be. Now it's just a matter of picking the pace up a bit.
"We did have a bit of an anxious moment right before we ran, because I mysteriously had no air gap in the clutch when I rolled to the line. I stepped on the clutch, and there was nothing. Fortunately, there was a slight delay due to the oil down in the previous pair, which allowed us to repair it in time. The bottom line is that we are in the show, and it's up to us to make the best of the opportunity."