A Mindful WJ is Ready to Resume Racing in Norwalk Sugar Hill, Ga., June 26, 2008 -- The POWERade Drag Racing series will return to action this weekend with the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, less than a week after a ...
A Mindful WJ is Ready to Resume Racing in Norwalk
Sugar Hill, Ga., June 26, 2008 -- The POWERade Drag Racing series will return to action this weekend with the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, less than a week after a qualifying accident in Englishtown, NJ took the life of former Top Fuel champion Scott Kalitta. With over 500 NHRA national event starts in his career, GM Performance Parts GXP racer Warren Johnson has witnessed every phase of the emotional spectrum at a racetrack, experience which should help him as he prepares for this weekend's race. As such, the six-time champion readily acknowledges the burden all racers will feel while competing at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
"The tragic events of last weekend are an unfortunate part of our sport," said Johnson. "We absolutely detest when it happens, and hate losing friends that way, but also realize it is part of the risk we take in our chosen profession. We obviously try to minimize those risks as much as possible by building safer race cars and doing everything we can to make our environment as safe as possible, but there's always that danger.
"The important part is that we just don't move on. Besides supporting the Kalitta family in whatever way we can, we must learn from this incident so we can make the necessary changes to try and prevent it from happening again. For this weekend, however, we must somehow put our game faces on and go to work, getting the most from our GM Performance Parts GXP."
Despite any lingering feelings, however, the premier teams in the Pro Stock category will have to be on their game from the very start in the Buckeye State, as in addition to qualifying and racing in Sunday's final eliminations, many of them will be participating in Saturday's K&N Horsepower Challenge. This single-day event pits the eight highest qualifying cars from the previous year in a three-round dash for cash, and is held in conjunction with the final two qualifying sessions. With a winner's purse of $50,000, and even greater rewards should the winner also capture the nationals event title, it has certainly piqued The Professor's interest.
"Having the Horsepower Challenge on Saturday puts a lot more pressure on making a solid qualifying run on Friday," stated Johnson. "After all, if you can go into Saturday confident of being in the show on Sunday, you can really get after it in the specialty event. It's great that K&N has stepped up to the plate on this program. There's a lot of money on the table, and it would certainly behoove us to win.
"But to give ourselves a realistic chance, our GM Performance Parts GXP will have to make good, consistent runs. We've picked up the performance in certain areas, but it's still not as fast as we'd like it to be in other parts of the track. Therefore, we're going to look back at our notes to see what we've changed in the tune-up over the last few years, so we can be consistently fast throughout the run.
"Unfortunately, we won't have a lot of time to address it before Norwalk, because we'll have to deal with the tractor issues we had on the way to New Jersey. I'll leave that in the crew's hands, as they'll head directly to Ohio, while I go back to the shop and work on a few of our on-going projects. One way or another, I'm sure we'll be able to scratch something together and give them a run for the money."