THE WARREN REPORT: KEYSTONE NATIONALS EDITION Warren Johnson News and Notes for the NHRA Pioneer Keystone Nationals, Reading, Penn., September 18-20 U.S. NATIONALS NEWS For the seventh straight year, a member of the Johnson...
THE WARREN REPORT: KEYSTONE NATIONALS EDITION
Warren Johnson News and Notes for the NHRA Pioneer Keystone Nationals, Reading, Penn., September 18-20 U.S. NATIONALS NEWS
For the seventh straight year, a member of the Johnson family advanced to the final round of the U.S. Nationals. This time it was Warren Johnson who continued the family tradition at Indianapolis Raceway Park when he faced Mike Edwards in the final round of Pro Stock. W.J. fell .016 seconds short of scoring the Johnsons' seventh consecutive Indy victory when he was defeated by Edwards, 7.034/194.46 to 7.045/196.46.
"We got halfway to keeping the streak alive - we got to the final!" said Johnson. "We slipped the clutch too much in second gear and then the car got loose in the middle of the track. We gained almost two hundredths on Edwards in the back half, but it wasn't enough to catch him.
"This is an old racing surface, and with the cloud cover and moisture today it got slippery," Warren reported. "All of the racers had to deal with it, and we just didn't do a good job."
* Warren Johnson made his ninth final-round appearance of the 1998 season at the U.S. Nationals. He has now been in 56% of the final rounds this year.
* Johnson posted his third runner-up finish of the year and the 42nd of his career. With John Force's Funny Car victory in Indy, Force and Johnson are now tied for second place on the list of all-time NHRA winners with 69 wins each.
* Warren qualified No. 1 for the ninth time in 1998, the 98th time in his career, and the seventh time at the U.S. Nationals. Johnson set the track records for e.t. and speed at 6.977/197.62.
* Kurt Johnson qualified his ACDelco Camaro in the No. 2 spot for the fourth time this year at 6.989/196.50. It was also the fourth time in 1998 that the father-and-son team has qualified 1-2.
* Warren Johnson "tripled" for the 68th time in his career at the U.S. Nationals by qualifying No. 1, running the Low ET, and posting the Top Speed in Pro Stock.
Warren's runner-up finish in Indy increased his lead in the championship standings to 382 points - a 20-round margin. With a maximum of 138 points available at a race, Johnson could sit out the next two events and still have at least a 106-point lead.
W.J. insists that it is still too early to starting counting chickens (or Winston championship points) in his quest for a fourth career NHRA crown. There are 828 points on the table in the next six national events. In order to earn that many points, a driver would have to qualify No. 1 six times, win all six races, and set the national e.t. record six times. As unlikely as that scenario may be, eight drivers still have a mathematical chance to catch Johnson in the points race. This assumes, however, that Warren will be kidnapped by aliens and will not score any points in the remaining races.
Warren was named the "Pro Stock Driver of the Year" on the 1998 Car Craft All-Star Drag Racing Team at an award banquet held at the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis during the U.S. Nationals. This is the fifth time that Johnson has been voted by the magazine's readers as the class' top driver; he also won in 1992, 1993, 1995, and 1996.
GM Performance Parts, an associate sponsor on both Warren's Pontiac and Kurt's Camaro, won the "Pro Stock Sponsor" award for the third straight year. Rick Jones, who constructed both of the Johnsons' race cars, was honored as the "Pro Stock Chassis Builder" for the first time, and Pontiac repeated as the Automobile Manufacturer of the Year.
"I really didn't expect to win this award after the job that Jim Yates did last season," said Johnson. "It's the other drivers in Pro Stock who push me and Kurt to try harder. It wouldn't be possible for us to race at this level without the support of GM Goodwrench Service Plus, ACDelco, GM Performance Parts, Goodwrench Tools, and Pontiac. I truly appreciate the recognition we have received from the readers of Car Craft."
* Mike Stryker, crew chief for Warren Johnson's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac, leads the Parts America "Mechanic of the Year" standings with 122 points - a 57-point margin over No. 2 ranked Jeff Taylor, crew chief for Jeg Coughlin, Jr.
* After his record-setting performance at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Warren Johnson now holds elapsed time records at 14 out of the 22 events on the NHRA calendar. He holds the speed record at 20 of the 22 races.
* Warren and Kurt Johnson have qualified on the Pro Stock "pole" 11 times in 16 races this season - a 69% average.
The Keystone Nationals has been very, very good to the Johnsons. They advanced to the final round six straight years in 1991-1996, scoring a total of four victories.
In 1993, the family couldn't lose: Kurt defeated his father Warren in a Johnson vs. Johnson final to score his second career victory. In 1996, Kurt failed to qualify for the Keystone Nationals just two weeks after he won the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. That was the last time that K.J. failed to make the cut. Since then he has qualified at 42 consecutive national events, the second longest active qualifying streak in Pro Stock. Who has the longest active qualifying streak? Warren Johnson, who has qualified for every race since the 1987 Gatornationals. At last year's Keystone Nationals, Mike Bell eliminated both of the Johnsons: He defeated Kurt in the second round, and beat Warren in the semi-final.
Labor Day weekend traditionally signals the end of summer and the arrival of cooler weather. Warren relishes the prospect of the change of seasons - not because he enjoys fall colors, but because this is the time of year when records drop like autumn leaves.
"If El Nino doesn't stick around and the temperature cools off, the remaining tracks should favor our cars," Warren predicts. "We should be able to open up a performance advantage."
That's a forecast that should strike fear in the hearts of Warren's competition.
Warren Johnson's Year-by-Year Results at the Keystone Nationals:
Year Qual. Result 1985 2 Runner-up (to Allen) 1986 2 First Round 1987 4 First Round 1988 3 Semi-final 1989 1 First Round 1990 2 Semi-final 1991 1 Winner (over Pawuk) 1992 2 Winner (over Eckman) 1993 1 Runner-up (to K. Johnson) 1994 2 Runner-up (to Alderman) 1995 1 Winner (over Pawuk) 1996 1 Runner-up (to Yates) 1997 2 Semi-final
Total Races 13 Wins 3 Runners-up 4 Semi-Finals 3 Second Round 0 First Round 3
Kurt Johnson's Year-by-Year Results at the Keystone Nationals:
Year Qual. Result 1993 2 Winner (over W.Johnson) 1994 6 Second Round 1995 3 First Round 1996 DNQ 1997 6 Second Round
NEXT RACE: Pioneer Keystone Nationals, September 18-20 Reading, Penn. TV: TNN, Sunday, Sept. 20, 5:00-6:30 p.m. EDT
LAST RACE: U.S. Nationals September 7, 1998, Indianapolis, Ind. Qualifying: Warren Johnson qualified No. 1 at 6.977/197.67 mph Eliminations: Round 1: Johnson defeated Bob Benza Round 2: Johnson defeated John Nobile Semi-Final: Johnson defeated Mark Osborne Final Round: Mike Edwards defeated Johnson Low ET: Warren Johnson, 6.977 seconds (track record) Top Speed: Warren Johnson, 197.67 mph (track record)
POINTS RACE: After 16 of 22 events; victories in parentheses 1. Warren Johnson (6) 1391 2. Jeg Coughlin (3) 1009 3. Kurt Johnson (1) 1005 4. Jim Yates (1) 960 5. Mark Osborne (1) 833