WJ Rides His "Wounded Duck" to the Phoenix Quarterfinals Warren Johnson knew he faced a significant disadvantage entering Sunday's final eliminations of the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, AZ. Unbeknownst to anyone outside the...
WJ Rides His "Wounded Duck" to the Phoenix Quarterfinals
Warren Johnson knew he faced a significant disadvantage entering Sunday's final eliminations of the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, AZ. Unbeknownst to anyone outside the GM Performance Parts Racing team, the powerful 500 cubic inch V-8 under the hood of their Grand Am was not up to full power. Although the Professor had been able to muster a 6.797-second, 203.86 mph pass to qualify fourth, he knew he would need every advantage possible in order to advance.
Fortunately, as the higher-seeded car in the opening round, Johnson would be able to pick his lane against veteran Jerry Haas on the very tricky Firebird Raceway track, which was made even more challenging by the 80 degrees temperatures encountered on Sunday. Johnson took full advantage, leaving the starting line over four hundredths of a second ahead of his opponent, and posting a representative 6.846-second, 202.12-mph pass to advance to the quarter-finals.
However, WJ had no such luxuries in his next race, as he would have to face his son Kurt Johnson. In addition to not having lane choice, the senior member of the Johnson family would also have to deal with a healthy and quicker race car.
Unfortunately, although he would record the quickest pass of the second round in the right lane at 6.861 seconds, it was not enough to hold off his son's 6.834-second charge.
"That was all that engine had left to give. Looking at the data from the run against Kurt, we actually made a better run in the second round, but it was obviously a wounded duck. In that situation, there's really nothing you can do. You can make a few adjustments to try and compensate, and maybe lean it out and go for a Hail Mary, trying to pick up a little without damaging it too much, but we really took it as far as we could and wanted to.
"We'll take it back to the shop and put it on the dyno and see just how far off we were. It was just something inadvertent that happened. We'll make the necessary changes to fix it, restore this engine to full health, and start focusing on Gainesville.
"Looking at the performance of both Kurt's and my cars, we're pretty optimistic. We've narrowed the deficit between ourselves and the quickest car considerably, and we'll just keep working at it until our GM Performance Parts Grand Am can put our opponents out to pasture."