Madison: Warren Johnson preview

Warren Johnson aims to hit season midpoint with St. Louis win GM Performance Parts crew looks for third Sears Craftsman Nationals win SUGAR HILL, GA., June 23, 2003 - The 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season will reach its midpoint with the ...

Warren Johnson aims to hit season midpoint with St. Louis win GM Performance Parts crew looks for third Sears Craftsman Nationals win

SUGAR HILL, GA., June 23, 2003 - The 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season will reach its midpoint with the running of next weekend's Sears Craftsman Nationals in St. Louis, MO. As he prepared his GM Performance Parts Grand Am to compete at Gateway International Raceway, Pro Stock standout Warren Johnson took time to look back on his accomplishments during the first 11 races.

Virtually every competitor would gladly accept Johnson's record of two wins, two No. 1 qualifying performances and a third-place standing in championship race. However, after six championships and 90 national event wins, the man known as "The Professor of Pro Stock" grades his performance on a slightly steeper scale.

"Overall, I would give our team a C for the first half," stated Johnson. "Obviously, missing the show in Joliet was the low point, with the two wins in Pomona and Atlanta being the other side of the pendulum."

"We have to improve on our ability to get down the race track consistently, including qualifying. We made progress in that area in Columbus, where we qualified fourth and were among the quickest cars in eliminations. In addition, we are looking at ways to further increase our performance during the second half."

"So far we've been cautious dealing with this new GM Performance Parts Grand Am, as we don't have a complete book on exactly what its characteristics are. We haven't gone for the throat yet, but even with a somewhat conservative approach, it appears to be a pretty fast car. We're certainly going in the right direction."

This final race of the first half is unlike any other on the schedule, as all on-track action will occur in the late afternoon and evening. However, with over 27 years of Pro Stock racing experience, W.J. is prepared to take the challenges of this unique event in stride, and with two wins in six previous appearances, he is well versed on what it takes to succeed at the track located in the shadows of the famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

"Although it's certainly unusual for our series, having a night race shouldn't really affect our game plan," detailed Johnson. "We've had qualifying sessions on Friday nights and early Saturday mornings at previous events this season where the conditions were quite similar to what we'll encounter in St. Louis, so we have an idea what we'll be facing."

"Unless the humidity gets extremely high, racing at night should certainly help the race track, as we'll be running on a much cooler surface than what we encounter during the day. Of course, with its relatively low elevation and being located so close to the Mississippi, the dew point could get to the stage where the track could be relatively tricky later in the evening."

"The surface at Gateway International Raceway has been pretty good, although the starting line has been a little slippery in the last few years, especially in 2001. However, keep in mind that I learned to race on marginal tracks, unlike many of my competitors. That experience was invaluable, as it taught me how to get down the track under less than ideal conditions."

"The bottom line is that it really doesn't matter when you race. You always have to be ready, and I guarantee this GM Performance Parts Racing team will be on their game when they pull in the gates in Madison."

Facts on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Racing Team entering the Sears Craftsman Nationals:

WJ is "The Man" in Madison:

This will be Warren's seventh NHRA Pro Stock national event appearance at Gateway International Raceway, where he has won twice (including the inaugural event in 1997), while compiling an 11-4 elimination round record.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson