THE Warren Report: Warren Johnson GM Performance Parts News & Notes for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis, Aug. 30-Sept. 2 Johnson guns for seventh U.S. Nationals title. For the 27th time in his racing career, Warren Johnson is ...
THE Warren Report: Warren Johnson
GM Performance Parts News & Notes for the Mac Tools
U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis, Aug. 30-Sept. 2
Johnson guns for seventh U.S. Nationals title.
For the 27th time in his racing career, Warren Johnson is preparing for the U.S. Nationals. Getting ready for Indy has been an annual ritual since W.J. first ventured to Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1971 with a car he had constructed in his driveway. Now instead of an open trailer and a tent in a campground, Johnson's Indy adventure features an 18-wheeler packed with parts, a hotel room with a shower, and a state-of-the-art GM Performance Parts Pontiac. But not even decades on the drag racing circuit and six U.S. Nationals victories can diminish the magic of drag racing's biggest event for Johnson.
A successful one-day test at IRP last week has stoked W.J.'s optimism as he pursues his seventh career U.S. Nationals title.
"We ended up going 6.86 at 200.75, which was the fastest speed of the test session," Johnson reported. "When we ran our quickest time, everyone else had slowed down several hundredths. I'm optimistic that we're headed in the right direction."
The open test in Indy provided a rare opportunity for Johnson to compare his on-track performance with his rivals.
"We seldom have an opportunity to test under the same conditions as our competitors," he noted. "There were some items we've wanted to test all season long, but between personal appearances, rainouts and everything else, we didn't have an opportunity to try them until last week. Now it appears that we've picked up a solid two hundredths from where we were."
In the most competitive category in motorsports, a few hundredths of a second can be a formidable advantage. But in spite of the apparent gains he made in testing, Johnson anticipates another Pro Stock free-for-all in Indy.
"I don't expect to see a dominating performance by a single car," Johnson predicted. "There will be several cars with the capability to win if they maintain a consistent level of performance. Quick elapsed times aren't enough any more; the driver and crew must be perfect because there is no margin for error."
Johnson regards the IRP track, which was refurbished before last year's race, as a premier venue for NHRA's premier event.
"It's the smoothest track we've seen this year," Johnson observed. "There's not a bump on it, and both lanes were nearly identical. Unless there are some significant oildowns, I don't foresee the track being a factor on race day."
The Johnson family virtually owned Indy in the '90s, making eight straight final-round appearances from 1992 to 1999. Warren scored four consecutive victories in 1992-95, was runner-up in 1998, and posted another victory in 1999. Kurt scored back-to-back victories in 1996-97. Now after a two-year absence from the IRP winner's circle, W.J. is optimistic about his chances of notching another Indy victory.
"Kurt and I have had so many off-track obligations that we haven't been able to concentrate on raising our performance level to where it needs to be," Johnson revealed. "Now we're finally finding the time to work on the cars and engines. That's going to help for the balance of this year, and also give us a head start for next season."