GM Racing Las Vegas preseason test wrap-up

Warren Johnson's GM Performance Parts GTO Runs Fastest Four Speeds At Pontiac Pro Stock Showdown Professor Posts First Runner-Up of 2006 LAS VEGAS, Feb. 4, 2006 - With the brilliant sunshine that rained down on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor ...

Warren Johnson's GM Performance Parts GTO Runs Fastest Four Speeds At Pontiac Pro Stock Showdown

Professor Posts First Runner-Up of 2006

LAS VEGAS, Feb. 4, 2006 - With the brilliant sunshine that rained down on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, you could not have asked for a better setting in which to run the inaugural Pontiac Pro Stock Showdown. And with all the winning names and teams that were listed on the scorecard, the fans attending today's last-chance test session were treated to a fabulous afternoon of pre-season competition.

Warren Johnson will head into the start of the new season next week at Pomona Raceway with a runner-up finish already in his pocket. Johnson advanced to the finals before losing to Larry Morgan in the championship heat.

The six-time NHRA champion turned in a strong performance by posting the top speed in all four rounds of the eliminator and the four fastest speeds of the meet. Johnson defeated Mike Thomas in round one with a 6.770 e.t. at 203.80 mph, Allen Johnson in round two with a 6.774 e.t. at 203.55 mph, and Dave Connolly in round three with a 6.782 e.t. at 203.95 mph (top speed of the meet). In the final, Johnson red lit by .022 of a second, but his Pontiac GTO still blistered the Las Vegas quarter mile with a 6.802 e.t at 203.80 mph. Morgan got loose at halftrack and coasted to a winning 7.747 second e.t. at 131.84 mph.

"We have some stuff we have to address on Sunday, but if we get the 60-foot situation fixed, the GM Performance Parts Pontiac will really be fast," said Johnson. "It outruns everybody on the backhalf by two-hundredths. It's about a hundredth slow at 60, and that hurts the 330, but by the time you get to 330 it's already starting to make it up. We have to get that starting line to 60, and then 60 to 330, straightened out. It's just something we have to fix.

"We've basically been working on the engine tune up for the last couple of days. The speed stayed where it needed to be, we just have to work on our starting line e.t. and then we'll be in good shape. We have a couple of motors we're probably going to run and we may even be out here on Monday - we're not leaving until Tuesday. We have a lot of things we have to address."

A pair of drivers in GM-branded cars advanced to the semifinal round including Johnson, and Dave Connolly in a Chevy Cobalt. Johnson advanced to round three by defeating Mike Thomas in the first heat and Allen Johnson in the second session. Connolly knocked off May Naylor in round one and Jim Yates in round two.

"There were a lot of little things during the offseason that we sorted out on the racecar," said Connolly. "They were small problems that appear to have been fixed because our Chevy Cobalt seems to have responded. The car is running good down low and good speed at the top end. Horsepower is definitely a key ingredient in this class and our program with Victor Cagnazzi has certainly helped us."

Two rounds of qualifying set the 16-car field. Warren Johnson qualified in the No. 2 spot in the GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO posting the fastest speed in time trials at 203.77 mph and the quickest e.t. in the second session at 6.766 seconds.

"It's been a productive off season," said Johnson. "I took some well spent time away from the shop in November to visit the troops in Germany, and after that, hardly anyone from the crew or in the shop missed a day. It was a non-stop effort and it shows by the way we've picked up the pace."

Dave Connolly had the quickest Chevrolet in the field parking his Cobalt in the No. 3 position with a 6.769 e.t. at 203.25 mph. Greg Stanfield qualified fifth in a GTO, Jim Yates was sixth in a GTO, Rickie Smith was seventh in a Cobalt, and Kurt Johnson in the ACDelco Chevrolet rounded out the top half of the field in the No. 8 position.

Greg Anderson qualified ninth in the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO, Ron Krisher was 11th in a Cobalt, Mark Pawuk was 12th in a GTO, Erica Enders was 13th in a Cobalt, Bob Panella was 14th in a Cobalt and Mike Edwards was 15th in a GTO. Richie Stevens was the No. 1 qualifier in a Dodge running 6.757 seconds at 203.19 mph.

"Obviously, we should have been here yesterday," said Anderson. "We needed the track time on this Summit Racing Pontiac. We didn't come here in race mode, we came here to test. We know we're going to stay four more days to test. We weren't ready for racing. We made some mistakes and the car wasn't ready for this race track. The car hasn't been happy all day today. We need to make it happy and then it will be fine."

The CARQUEST Winternationals on Feb. 9 - 12 at Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif., is the first race on the 23-event NHRA POWERade schedule. Qualifying can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, Feb. 11, beginning at 10 p.m. Eastern. A three-hour telecast of final eliminations can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, Feb. 12, starting at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

-gm racing-

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