WJ Drives to Memphis Quarterfinals After qualifying tenth for Sunday's final eliminations of the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team knew they were facing an uphill climb. In the first...
WJ Drives to Memphis Quarterfinals
After qualifying tenth for Sunday's final eliminations of the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team knew they were facing an uphill climb. In the first round, they squared off against David Connolly, who won the most recent stop on the POWERade Drag Racing Series in Brainerd a week ago. Further complicating their task was the fact that they would be racing without the benefit of lane choice.
All of this mattered little to Johnson, who simply focused on making sure he extracted the maximum performance from himself and his race car. The strategy paid off when The Professor used a quick .024 reaction time to gain the advantage by over three hundredths of a second at the starting line, and then combined it with a solid 6.814-second, 203.06 mph run to score a holeshot win over Connolly, who recorded a 6.788-second, 203.12 mph pass in the losing effort. However, shortly after the completion of the opening round, heavy rains forced NHRA officials to postpone the final three rounds until Monday.
When the racers returned to Memphis Motorsports Park in the morning, they encountered overcast skies with cooler temperatures, high humidity and a totally different racing surface. Once again relegated to the less-preferred right hand lane, Johnson faced another tough challenge in No. 2 qualifier Mike Edwards. As he had a day ago, WJ put together a good reaction time the second quickest pass of the round in that lane at 6.731 seconds with a top speed of 204.05 mph. Unfortunately, it was not enough to overcome Edwards' perfect .000 reaction time (an extremely rare occurrence in drag racing) and 6.718-second, 204.54 mph run.
Although disappointed by the early end to his day, Johnson was philosophical about the outcome, and left Memphis satisfied with his team's performance over the extended weekend.
"Mike did what he had to do, and did it perfectly. You just have to congratulate him on the fine effort. That's just the way things go in this sport. However, comparing our respective times from the first two rounds, we actually picked up more today than he did, which is what matters in the long run. Overall, I'd have to say I'm happy with our performance, and, with Kurt winning, it was a good day for our team.
"This was our last race with this particular chassis, as we will be bringing out a new GM Performance Parts GTO in Indianapolis in two weeks. In fact, with some of the trials and tribulations we've had with this car, we're not going to transfer any parts from it to the new one -- in fact, we may start this one up and let it idle in the corner until the new one is done to make darn sure nothing is put on the new one. In any case, we're leaving here looking forward to the U.S. Nationals."