Short Week Ramps Warren Johnson's Work Schedule Even Higher GM Performance Parts driver puts in overtime in preparation for NHRA Route 66 Nationals SUGAR HILL, GA., May 19, 2004 - The NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series is in the middle of one of...
Short Week Ramps Warren Johnson's Work Schedule Even Higher
GM Performance Parts driver puts in overtime in preparation for NHRA Route 66 Nationals
SUGAR HILL, GA., May 19, 2004 - The NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series is in the middle of one of the toughest stretches on its 2004 schedule. Beginning with last weekend's race in Atlanta, the world's best quarter-milers will be competing on six of seven weekends, with stops from Englishtown, N.J. to Topeka, KS. This week, the straight liners head to Joliet, IL for the NHRA Route 66 Nationals. This allows most teams less than three full days to service their race car and make the 12-hour trek to Route 66 Raceway. However, GM Performance Parts Grand Am driver Warren Johnson's hectic schedule has compressed this timeframe even further.
"We'll definitely be cutting into our supply of midnight oil this week," stated Johnson. "Due to our one-day test in Atlanta on Monday, and a sponsor commitment in Detroit on Wednesday, I'll essentially have to one day to try and squeeze in fourteen days worth of work, trying to wring some extra performance out of our GM Performance Parts Grand Am."
One unknown factor all competitors will be facing this weekend at Route 66 Raceway is the racing surface, which has been completely redone since the NHRA's last visit in October, which will most likely require a totally new combination to produce the maximum performance. Fortunately, the Johnson team possesses over thirty years of tuning information from a wide variety of racetracks under all types of weather conditions, which they will refer to as they decide on a baseline set-up for this weekend's event.
"With the track being completely resurfaced, we have absolutely no idea what to expect," said Johnson. "As far as I know, no one has been on the track, so we are facing a brand new bowling alley. That could actually play in the GM Performance Parts Grand Am's favor. Not only do we have a bigger notebook than most teams, we also have the advantage of running two cars, which will give us twice the data in every session, which offers the potential of being a significant advantage."
"The Professor" heads to Illinois looking to repeat his winning performance from this event in 1999 (he also scored a victory at the fall event at Route 66 Raceway in 2001), with his confidence buoyed by the progress he has made during recent test sessions, which has provided vital tuning information on his revolutionary race car.
The challenge is further heightened by the inclusion this weekend of the King Demon Crown, the annual Pro Stock shootout pitting the top eight qualifiers from the last year in a $50,000 dash for cash. With so much on the line, Johnson acknowledges that a return to the winner's circle will rely heavily on the team performing at its absolute best.
"To be honest, we have not been as effective on race day as we would like," said Johnson. "Fortunately, or. depending upon your perspective, unfortunately, our wounds have been primarily self-inflicted, so the fix should be a simple one. Therefore, this weekend, as it is every time we unload that race car, avoiding errors will be our primary goal. We will continue to work at our normal pace, and if that is not enough to get it done, we will figure out some way to pick it up even further.
"Overall, however, I believe we're in a good position. We just have to execute our plan. From what we learned during our tests in Atlanta and South Carolina, we have more knowledge on what this GM Performance Grand Am needs to run, particularly on slick race tracks, which could be of particular use this weekend in Chicago. With the added challenge of the King Demon Crown, there is a lot at stake, and we don't want to leave any crumbs on the table."
In Warren's Words:
On racing at Route 66 Raceway -
"We enjoy racing at Route 66 Raceway. It is one of the nicest facilities on the circuit. We have one win there, and feel that we should actually have two. At the first race here in 1998, the final was delayed by over an hour due the clean-up after a Top Alcohol Funny Car caught fire, and the change in atmospheric conditions during that time resulted In our not having enough clutch in the car, and we came up a little short."