WJ Keeps Team Priorities in Order Heading into Memphis; GM Performance Parts GXP crew see team effort as path to success Sugar Hill, Ga., September 25, 2008 -- Entering the final four races of the 2008 POWERade Drag Racing Season, Warren Johnson...
WJ Keeps Team Priorities in Order Heading into Memphis; GM Performance Parts GXP crew see team effort as path to success
Sugar Hill, Ga., September 25, 2008 -- Entering the final four races of the 2008 POWERade Drag Racing Season, Warren Johnson is the ultimate multitasker. For example, at this weekend's O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals in Memphis, TN, the six-time champion will be simultaneously working on returning his GM Performance Parts GXP to winning form, continuing his long-range research and development efforts, and doing his part to ensure the successes of his son and teammate, Kurt Johnson in the ACDelco Cobalt as well as engine leasing customer Justin Humphreys. It is a daunting task, to say the least, but one WJ believes is well worth doing.
"We are currently working with a total of three cars, namely my GM Performance Parts GXP, Kurt's ACDelco Cobalt, and Justin's GXP," stated Johnson. "As such, I consider it a success any time one of those three wins a race. I am certainly focused on getting our program back to the winner's circle as soon as possible, but with Kurt competing for this year's championship, if I had to establish a pecking order, he would have to come first.
"At this point, everyone is working really well together. We're using an off-shoot from Justin's car that is finally getting our times in the early part of the run to be competitive, although we're still not where we want to be quite yet. We have some work to do in so far as the shock, springs and other areas are concerned, but that is more in the realm of fine-tuning than major changes. Kurt and his crew then took that information and applied it to their car during a test session this past Monday in Dallas to see if it could help them during these last few races. It's just part of a team effort that comes down to gathering information, which we then use to increase our chance of winning."
The site of this weekend's race, Memphis Motorsports Park, is one quite familiar to The Professor, as he has taken part in every national event held there since the multipurpose motorsports facility joined drag racing's premier series in 1988. With a solid record of success in his previous visits, including a class-leading four wins, Johnson is well-versed on what it takes to win in the Volunteer State. However, any sense of familiarity is tempered by reports or work performed on the track since last year's race.
"Just as it is at every race, we won't really know what kind of track we have to race on until we get there," said Johnson. "Although we haven't seen it personally, we've heard the track in Memphis has been worked on. Other than that, it's just another track. Although it has had a few issues in its time, the surface really hasn't been that bad.
"Of course, the surface at Memphis Motorsports Park is of the more traditional concrete-and-asphalt variety as opposed to the all-concrete tracks we've raced on the last two weeks. However, any changes we make to the tune-up in our GM Performance Parts GXP will be based more on the atmospheric conditions and what shape the track is in as opposed to its composition. Looking at the forecast for this weekend, I believe our performance level should be the same as it was in Dallas and Concord. We'll just have to see what we have and adapt to it as best as possible, doing what we can to produce positive results on race day."
Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team
By the Numbers -- O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals edition:
3 -- No. 1 qualifying performances by WJ in Memphis, most recently in 2002
4 - Wins by Warren Johnson at Memphis Motorsports Park in his career coming into this weekend, which is the most by any Pro Stock competitor.
5 - WJ final round appearances at Memphis Motorsports Park.
5.684 -- Average starting position by WJ in his prior 19 starts in Memphis.
6 -- Finishes of the semifinals or better by WJ in his 19 starts at the Covington quarter-mile.
13 - Number of times (in 20 total races) that WJ has set top speed of the event in 2008.
16 -- Top Half starts by Warren Johnson in his previous 19 starts at Memphis Motorsports Park.
29 -- Different drivers WJ has faced in his NHRA Pro Stock career at MMP.