Denver: Warren Johnson preview

WJ Aims to Start Improving on his Mid-Term Grade in Denver GM Performance Parts Racing Team Shoots for Fifth Mile-High Nationals title Sugar Hill, Ga., July 11, 2005 - By all accounts, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing...

WJ Aims to Start Improving on his Mid-Term Grade in Denver

GM Performance Parts Racing Team Shoots for Fifth Mile-High Nationals title

Sugar Hill, Ga., July 11, 2005 - By all accounts, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing Team have acquitted themselves well in the first twelve races of the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season. They have been in contention for the win at almost every event and have firmly established themselves as serious contenders for the 2005 Pro Stock championship. With five No. 1 qualifying positions and two wins in four final round appearances, they have consistently maintained their position at or near the top of the standings.

It is a performance that would thrill most participants in this highly competitive category. However, "The Professor of Pro Stock" tends to grade himself on a slightly tougher scale, part of his never-ending search for improvement. As the straight-liners look to kick off the second half of their year with the Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO, Johnson took time to evaluate his competitive efforts of the last six months.

"If I had to grade our performance to this point in the season, I would have to give us a B-minus," stated Johnson. "Obviously, we're not totally satisfied with where we are performance-wise, and that encompasses the car, the driver and the team. Fortunately, we are still in contention because, in my opinion, there have been no A-graded teams so far. If we are able to shore up a few of our weak spots, I believe we can be much more effective in the second half of the season."

"However, the positives certainly outweigh the negatives in the first twelve races, which are the result of everybody's hard work. For example, the DRCE III engine has proven itself to be a solid piece, and although the coordination of the entire package between the engine and the car may have taken a little longer than we would have liked, we're pleased with its current progress. We've done a pretty good job to this point with our GM Performance Parts Pontiac going rounds and scoring points, but we're not about to rest on our laurels. We have to keep moving forward, trying to do even better."

The Johnson crew's aspirations of raising their game will be severely challenged by the conditions at Bandimere Speedway, site of this weekend's race. Located just outside of Denver, the wafer-thin air significantly reduces the amount of horsepower available to the "factory hot rods", putting a premium on hitting the right chassis combination to maximize the power available.

Fortunately, it has been a good racetrack for Johnson, whose four previous wins in nine final rounds on the mountain are the most by any active Pro Stock driver.

"The unique conditions in Denver make it one of the tougher tracks to race on," said Johnson. "We have an adjusted altitude of nearly 9000 feet, and the thin air means these Pro Stock cars are down about 300 horsepower. As such, it requires a set-up unlike any other we use throughout the year. Therefore, you have to have impeccable notes of where you are before you start making wholesale changes to get the car to be effective in Denver, because you have to change it right back for the following race."

"We've done relatively well there over the years, most likely because I learned to race under less than favorable conditions, with Denver fitting right in that scenario. In fact, I raced for several years in Pueblo, which is at an even higher altitude than Bandimere, making it easier for me to adapt to the conditions for the Mile-High Nationals. Hopefully, that experience will help us this weekend, as we look to kick off the second half of the season on a positive note. I believe our GM Performance Parts Pontiac's performance is on an upswing, and it's up to us to take advantage of it this weekend. After all, it's all part of the plan."

Notes on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team entering the Mile-High Nationals:

WJ is the Boss in Bandimere: This will be Warren's 22nd NHRA appearance at Bandimere Speedway, where he has four wins (in 1984, 1991, 2001 & 2003) in nine final round appearances, which is the most among active Pro Stock drivers. In addition, WJ was the No. 1 qualifier four times, has an 4.24 average starting position (with only four starts outside the top half of the field) and has an elimination round record of 47-17 in his previous twenty-one Colorado starts.

No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 94 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 at this year's O'Reilly Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals in Bristol, TN.

One year ago: Warren was the fifteenth qualifier with an elapsed time of 7.218 seconds and a top speed of 191.62, and advanced to the quarter-finals.

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