Las Vegas: Warren Johnson preview

Always Learning, The Professor Targets The Strip GM Performance Parts GXP crew ready to headline in Las Vegas Sugar Hill, Ga., April 8, 2008 -- Throughout his stellar career, GM Performance Parts GXP racer Warren Johnson has been known as ...

Always Learning, The Professor Targets The Strip
GM Performance Parts GXP crew ready to headline in Las Vegas

Sugar Hill, Ga., April 8, 2008 -- Throughout his stellar career, GM Performance Parts GXP racer Warren Johnson has been known as "The Professor of Pro Stock" due to his studious approach to his craft. Following every pass, whether in qualifying, final eliminations or testing, WJ will spend an extended period in the team transporter documenting the particulars while the information is still fresh in his mind, vital reference data that he keeps at the ready both on the road and in the shop.

The depth of Johnson's analytical nature was never more evident than after his uncharacteristic contact with the wall during qualifying in Houston two weeks ago. Although the top priority was to perform the repairs necessary to return the car to competition, decisions made during that process allowed the team to not only secure a spot in eliminations, advance to the quarterfinals and set top speed of the event, but also gather information to further their continued research and development efforts. Johnson hopes to put the results of that work to good use this weekend at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, NV.

"I see every pass we make as an opportunity to learn," says Johnson. "For example, although we would have preferred to leave Houston with a fully intact GM Performance Parts GXP and primary race engine, we left there with a lot of positive experiences and knowledge that we can apply towards the future.

"For example, both my GM PP and Kurt's ACDelco teams worked extremely well together to fix my car on Friday. We also learned some things from running the back up motor that we can use moving forward. It was also reinforced that we need to keep a constant supply of parts for both cars to not miss a beat in case of any other incidents. We took what started as a negative and turned it into a positive."

WJ's pre-race preparations for this event did take a slightly different twist due to the incident, as his crew took his race car back to chassis manufacturer Jerry Haas' shop in Missouri to have it restored to as-new condition, while he returned to Georgia to continue the work on the powerful DRCE III's that both he and his son Kurt will use. In typical Johnson fashion, this was simply viewed as a slight change of plans, with no long-term ill effect or cause for concern.

"Fortunately, having the car in St. Louis wasn't that much of a disruption, as I normally don't work on the car at the shop," said Johnson. "We usually go over what needs to be done when we get back to Georgia, and Adam (Drzyaich) and Bobby (Wunderlich) from my GM Performance Parts crew, as well as Justin (Belfance) and Jarrett (Hadorn) from the ACDelco team take care of the cars, while Kurt and I focus on finding some more power.

"In fact, I won't see our GXP until we get to Las Vegas, as they'll head directly there from Haas' shop. It will have a new nose and quarter-panel, as well as a couple of other pieces that were fixed, but other than that, it should be just as good as it ever was."

Johnson will need to have all the weapons in his arsenal in top condition this weekend, as he heads to a track that has historically given him fits. In its seven years on the POWERade Drag Racing circuit, a win at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has somehow eluded the 96-time event winner, who has two runner-up finishes to his credit in his previous 13 starts in the Nevada desert.

"I don't know what it is about The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but so far we just haven't gotten the results we wanted there," said Johnson. "We've run well there, just not good enough to win. You can't put a finger on exactly what it is -- after all, if I could identify it, I certainly would have fixed it by now. It's not like our equipment can't win there, because Kurt has done it twice in his ACDelco Chevy.

"Something in our favor this year is that we may have some of the best cars we've ever brought to Las Vegas. Our performance is heading in the right direction, and we'll be at full strength this weekend. I am too crusty and determined to give in. I will conquer this track -- hopefully, it will be this weekend."

Las Vegas Autograph Session: Warren Johnson will participate in an autograph session from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 10, at The Palms Resort Casino at 4321 W. Flamingo Road in Las Vegas. The autograph session will be held in the Key West Ballroom near the theaters.

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Jerry Haas