Pomona: Warren Johnson preview

Following an Atypical Offseason, WJ is Ready to Charge into 2005 GM Performance Parts Team Looks for Strong Start to "School's Out" tour Sugar Hill, Ga., February 7, 2005 - Throughout his illustrious career, Warren Johnson has been known for...

Following an Atypical Offseason, WJ is Ready to Charge into 2005
GM Performance Parts Team Looks for Strong Start to "School's Out" tour

Sugar Hill, Ga., February 7, 2005 - Throughout his illustrious career, Warren Johnson has been known for his testing regimen. On any given weekend, if the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am was not competing at a national event, there was a good chance the team would be at another racetrack making countless passes fine-tuning their set-ups in the never-ending search for speed. It has been an effective technique, powering him to 92 national event wins and six NHRA Pro Stock championships.

However, in the 86 days between the end of the 2004 POWERade season and the first day of qualifying at next weekend's Carquest Auto Parts Winternationals, Johnson will have only made a few shakedown runs in the days leading up to the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season opener. Even though there was a simple reason for this lack on on-track activity, "The Professor" made sure to use the time in a very efficient manner.

"Our testing schedule this year was initially dictated by the availability of our new GM Performance Parts Grand Am, which was delayed by the snowstorms in the Midwest and did not arrive at our shop until late January," explained Johnson. "However, not having a fresh race car to test actually proved beneficial to our engine program.

"The extra time allowed me to really concentrate on the driveline, which I believe has us in better shape engine-wise heading into the Winternationals than we have been in several years."

Johnson was also quick to dispel any concerns about entering the season with an unproven race car.

"We're not really concerned about the lack of runs on this particular chassis," said Johnson. "We're pretty confident that we can hit it pretty close right off the bat, so it shouldn't take a lot of runs to get it dialed in. In fact, we may only use a day at the track in Atlanta to get everything buttoned up before heading west."

Heading into his 34th year in Pro Stock competition, Johnson's competitive fire burns even hotter, as he looks to put an atypical 2004 season behind him and regain the championship form for which he is so well known. Even the announcement of the "The Professor's School's Out" tour, marking 2005 as his final full season on the NHRA circuit, has not slowed his meticulous preparation. After all, there is still work to be done, and goals to be reached.

"At this point, we're not even thinking about this being my last full season," stated Johnson. "We have a full year to deal with that. We are also not going to waste time worrying about last year. I've never been able to move forward by looking backwards.

"Our approach is quite simple. As of right now, everyone's scorecard reads the same. The Winternationals mark the start of a new season, and we want to get off to a good start. Our objective, as it has been from the start, is to win every race we enter and bring the championship back to Sugar Hill, and we can take a big step in that direction this weekend."

Notes on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Grand Am racing team entering the Carquest Auto Parts Winternationals:

* WJ is a Winternationals Wonder: This will be WJ's 26th appearance at the Winternationals. In his 24 previous starts, he has five wins in 10 final round appearances, with a 55-19 elimination round record for a .743 win percentage. In addition, he has five No. 1 qualifying performances, and an 3.92 average starting position.

* Pomona Raceway is a WJ Favorite: In 47 previous appearances at Pomona Raceway, WJ has nine wins in 16 final round appearances, a 93-35 elimination round record and 12 No. 1 qualifying performances, each of which is the most at any individual racetrack during his Pro Stock career.

* One year ago: Warren qualified sixth with an elapsed time of 6.770 seconds at 204.54 mph, and powered to the 143rd final round of his career.

* Most recent Winternationals win: 2003, when he qualified second and defeated Troy Coughlin, Kurt Johnson, Darrell Alderman and Allen Johnson en route to his 89th career win.

* WJ's Competitive Variety: This weekend, Warren Johnson will be racing a brand-new GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am. Since making his Winternationals debut in a Chevrolet Camaro in 1976, WJ has driven over 10 different GM models in Pro Stock competition, including Chevrolet Camaros, Oldsmobile Starfires, Cutlasses, Cutlass Calais, Cutlass Supreme, Firenzas and Pontiac Firebirds, Trans Ams and Grand Ams.

-j2r-

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