January 29, 1997 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Rick Voegelin/408-761-2201 WARREN JOHNSON RACE NOTES NHRA Chief Winternationals WARREN JOHNSON, 53, of Buford, Georgia, starts the 1997 season...
January 29, 1997 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Rick Voegelin/408-761-2201
WARREN JOHNSON RACE NOTES NHRA Chief Winternationals
WARREN JOHNSON, 53, of Buford, Georgia, starts the 1997 season as the fastest Pro Stock driver on the planet. WJ unofficially became the first Pro Stock driver in NHRA history to break the 200 mph barrier when his GM Performance Parts Pontiac rocketed to 200.00 mph in a pre-season test at Gainesville Raceway. If Johnson can duplicate that feat at the Chief Winternationals, he will collect a $25,000 prize.
POINTS RACE UPDATE. At the start of the 22-race NHRA season, Warren Johnson is tied in the championship race with every other Pro Stock driver -- they all have zero points! Warren has won the NHRA crown three times (1992, 1993, and 1995), and finished as runner-up seven times in his 21-year NHRA career.
DRIVER OF THE DECADE. With 39 national event victories since 1990, Warren Johnson is the winningest Pro Stock driver of the '90s. WJ is third on the list of all-time NHRA pro winners with 59 career victories in 96 final round appearances.
POMONA RECORD. Pomona Raceway has been very, very good to Warren Johnson. He has three Winternationals wins (1987, 1993, 1994) and three Winternationals runner-up finishes (1985, 1986, 1991). He has also won the Winston Select Finals four times (1988, 1993, 1994, 1995) at Pomona Raceway.
STILL THE ONE. Warren has qualified No. 1 at the Winternationals for four straight years (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996). He has been the No. 1 qualifier at 82 national events in his career.
FLASHBACK. At last year's Winternationals, Johnson qualified No. 1 at 7.015/196.12. He defeated Mike Thomas and Ray Franks before falling to Jim Yates in the semi-final round.
RECORD CHANGER. Warren Johnson holds the Pomona Raceway track records for elapsed time (6.957 seconds) and top speed (198.15 mph). He also holds the NHRA national speed record at 199.15 mph -- a mark he set in Houston, Texas on March 10, 1995. This is the oldest professional record in the NHRA record book.
HOT STREAKS. Warren Johnson has the longest active winning streak in NHRA racing. He's won at least one national event for 15 straight years -- a streak that started with his first NHRA victory in 1982.
WJ also owns the longest active qualifying streak among all NHRA drivers. He's qualified for 169 consecutive national events -- a string that began in 1987.
SPEED KING. Warren is acknowledged as the wizard of horsepower. He's run the Top Speed at 115 national events -- more than any other Pro Stock driver in NHRA history.
SIX SHOOTER. WJ has run 26 of the 46 6-second Pro Stock runs recorded in NHRA competition. He has more than three times as many sixes as his nearest competitor (Jim Yates is second with eight 6-second runs).
DID YOU KNOW?
. . . that Warren Johnson has finished in the Top Five in NHRA Winston points 15 consecutive seasons?
. . . that Warren Johnson was the first NHRA Pro Stock driver to break the 160 mph, 180 mph, and 190 mph barriers?
. . . that Warren Johnson has the eight fastest speeds and six of the 10 quickest elapsed times in the history of NHRA Pro Stock?
. . . that Warren Johnson was in the quickest side-by-side Pro Stock race in NHRA history. He lost to Mike Edwards on a holeshot in the quarterfinal round of the 1996 Winston Select Finals, 6.995 to 6.985.
. . . that the GM DRCE2 (Drag Race Competition Engine, 2nd Generation) block and aluminum cylinder heads that Warren Johnson uses in his Pro Stock engines are available from GM Performance Parts dealers?
WJ QUICK QUOTES
What is your outlook on the 1997 season?
"I'm really pretty optimistic based on how we're starting this year versus where we finished last year. Last season we qualified first or second at the first seven races, but we couldn't race worth a damn on Sunday because we simply didn't have enough data on our new Firebirds.
"Our Pontiac's aerodynamic envelope is completely different than the Oldsmobile we raced in 1995, and that affects how the chassis is loaded from 400 feet on out. Since the Firebird also has a wider track width and a shorter wheelbase, we had to throw out everything we knew before and start over again.
"We understood that the object was to get to the finish line ahead of everybody else -- but we just didn't have enough experience with the new chassis to execute consistently. Now we've got a pretty good data base after a year of experience.
"We knew going into last year that it would be a challenge to sort out a new combination -- but we didn't have any idea how drastic the differences would really be. What we learned last year has at least started us in the right direction this season. Hopefully we won't have to make too many about-faces!
"We've also found some more horsepower over the winter, so I'm optimistic that we can do a better, more consistent job on Sunday. In terms of performance, I don't have any doubts that we'll be right there."
What is your view of the state of Pro Stock in 1997?
"The technology is out there for sale and for rent, and that has increased the competitiveness of the entire category. Some teams have capitalized on the situation -- I guess they believe that if they don't, someone else will.
"When we originated the two-car team in Pro Stock in 1991, we did it because we wanted to have more data that would help us to operate effectively on race day. That theory proved to be absolutely correct -- with the extra data we acquired in 1991, we were able to win the championship in 1992 and 1993. Unfortunately, some other people appear to have taken the team concept a step further.
"The real reason we're out here is to provide entertainment for the fans in the grandstands and for the television audience. Everyone in the sport has an obligation to put on the best show that we can."
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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 29-Jan-1997