Phoenix: Warren Johnson preview

WJ Determined to Rise to the Top in Phoenix GM Performance Parts Team Aims to Give GTO a Winning Sendoff Sugar Hill, Ga., February 20, 2008 -- This weekend, the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series will head to the desert for their second...

WJ Determined to Rise to the Top in Phoenix
GM Performance Parts Team Aims to Give GTO a Winning Sendoff

Sugar Hill, Ga., February 20, 2008 -- This weekend, the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series will head to the desert for their second race of the season, the CSK Nationals in Phoenix, AZ. A quick review of this event's 24-year history reveals that GM Performance Parts Pontiac racer Warren Johnson has been a part of all previous editions. During that time, he has logged an impressive record, with his three national event wins tying him with his son Kurt for the most by an active Pro Stock competitor.

However, the relationship between Johnson and the challenging Arizona quarter-mile has not always been the best, as for many years, it was the lone holdout on the drag racing circuit where the six-time champion seemingly could not win. Fortunately, The Professor persevered, adding the venerable track to his lengthy list of successes ten years ago.

"For the longest time, Firebird Raceway was the one track where a win just seemed to escape me," said Johnson. "It certainly wasn't for lack of effort or preparation on any ones' part. We had our share of successes, qualifying well and reaching a few finals, but each time something unusual would happen to stop us from sealing the deal.

"But we never gave up, and finally, on my 14th try in 1998 that I was able to get that gorilla off my back. We've gotten back to the winner's circle twice since then with our GM Performance Parts Pontiac, most recently in 2006, but I still consider that place somewhat of a thorn in my side. This weekend, however, we're looking to pluck that thorn and take home our fourth Phoenix win."

Johnson arrives in Arizona looking to build off his solid start at the NHRA season-opener. With the debut of his new GM Performance Parts Pontiac GXP scheduled for the next race, this will be WJ's final national event with his trusted GTO Pro Stocker. As such, one would think he would be compelled to give this classic nameplate a fitting sendoff. However, having steadfastly claimed to never ascribe any emotion to his mounts over the years, his primary motivation this weekend will once again come from his unwavering commitment to competitive excellence.

"From our showing in Pomona, we seem to have made some progress in the off-season, because we're closer to the front than we were before," said Johnson. "In fact, we're probably more optimistic than we've been in the last couple years. Everyone has been working very hard back at the shop and we have some exciting things coming up that we feel should help us even more, including the debut of our new GM Performance Parts GXP in Gainesville.

"However, as we saw two weeks ago, this GM PP GTO has shown it still has a few moves left in it, and we're looking to put them to good use this weekend. After all, it's about time we made a return trip to the winner's circle, and, in many ways, it would be most appropriate if we did so in Phoenix."

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson