WJ's Short Game Costs Him in Pomona After qualifying third for Sunday's final eliminations of the Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team looked to score their sixth win at the ...
WJ's Short Game Costs Him in Pomona
After qualifying third for Sunday's final eliminations of the Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team looked to score their sixth win at the traditional NHRA season-opener. Things went according to plan in the first round, when Johnson used a stout 6.709-second, 206.51 mph pass to defeat rival Allen Johnson.
In the second round, WJ squared off against Mike Edwards, known as one of the better "leavers" in the highly competitive Pro Stock division. Knowing he would need a strong light and a solid run in order to advance to the semi-finals, "The Professor" bolted from the line with a lightning-fast .017 reaction time. However, the afternoon sun had taken its toll on the surface at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, and his race car spun its tires momentarily before charging down track, and the momentary lapse proved costly, as WJ's 6.725-second, 206.51 mph run fell seventh thousandths of a second shy of overtaking Edwards' 6.723-second, 206.45 mph pass.
"We were okay in the first eleven inches, and outran him from the 60-foot mark to the finish line, but that 59 feet one inch in the middle cost us. My reaction time was fine, but we just had too much wheel speed and sat at the starting line too long. We were a hundredth off in the first sixty feet, and made all but six thousandths up by the finish line.
"The track was a little warmer and probably not as good, and we didn't compensate enough for it in the first 60 feet. We made our normal changes for it, but we were giving the track a lot more credit than it was due, because even though we backed the car down, we were still not in our tune-up's comfort zone. Basically, we need to adjust our tuning approach to the surface, because it has deteriorated over the last few years. Of course, you have to keep in mind that these are probably the warmest temperatures we have ever had at the Winternationals.
"Even though our day wasn't as long as we wanted, we're still pleased with the performance of our GM Performance Parts GTO. With every race, it keeps coming around. Besides, I prefer to see this as an omen. I've been to the finals here in each of the last three years, and historically the Winternationals winner has not won the title, so I guess we're looking good for this year's championship."