Sonoma: Warren Johnson preview

WJ Looks to Be Like Lance in Sonoma GM Performance Parts team looks for successful end to West Coast Swing SUGAR HILL, GA., July 28, 2004 - At first glance, Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and NHRA Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson would...

WJ Looks to Be Like Lance in Sonoma
GM Performance Parts team looks for successful end to West Coast Swing

SUGAR HILL, GA., July 28, 2004 - At first glance, Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and NHRA Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson would seem to have little in common. After all, one makes his living astride a bicycle while the other races the 1,300-horsepower GM Performance Parts Pro Stock Grand Am. Armstrong's events cover many miles over varied terrain, while Johnson races one quarter-mile at a time. One is a Texan born and raised, while the other is a native Minnesotan living in Georgia. One is dating a well-known rock star, while the other has been happily married for 42 years.

Upon closer inspection, however, certain similarities between these two champions suddenly arise. Each has six championships - Armstrong in the Tour de France, Johnson in the NHRA's Pro Stock division. Both are known for their meticulous preparation and tireless work ethic, as well as for pioneering technology in their respective fields. They have both had to race former employees, who left to join other teams. Finally, each has an affinity for wearing yellow - Armstrong as the leader of the Tour and Johnson in his familiar GM Performance Parts livery.

"I doubt anyone would confuse us for each other," deadpanned Johnson. "I guess I'm the good-looking one and he's the skinny one. However, as unlikely as it may seem, there are some similarities in our competitive endeavors.

"For example, even though we are seen as individual competitors, we are both involved in team sports, because there is no way any one person in either field can accomplish what they need to be successful on their own anymore. There are simply too many facets. However, where Lance has climbers and sprinters, we have clutch, chassis and rear end specialists.

"We also both employ the same 'old school' approach, where we figure things out ourselves, getting help as we need to accomplish the task. Finally, people have written us both off many times, and we've bounced back to prove them wrong."

This weekend, Johnson will look to add yet another resemblance to the list, as he aims to wheel his GM Performance Parts Grand Am into the POWERade Drag Racing Series winner's circle at Infineon Raceway, an event held, ironically, in the middle of the wine country of Northern California. With a record of previous successes, it is a likely location for the Johnson crew to return to the winner's circle.

"In the past, the surface at Infineon Raceway was among the worst on the circuit," stated Johnson. "In fact, I won a few races there by figuring out how to get down the racetrack when no one else could, including using bead lock wheels in 1994. However, it was completely resurfaced two years ago to where it is now one of the premiere facilities on the circuit.

"The situation in Sonoma could be similar to what we encountered with the new track in Seattle last weekend, where the racing surface will not be the determining factor in how you run. The track is going to be decent, and it will be for everyone.

"Our real challenge will be in zeroing in on where our GM Performance Parts Grand Am needs to be. It has shown flashes of brilliance, but not the consistency we need. There is nothing wrong with the car per se. We just have to stop putting the square pegs in the round holes, and find the proverbial sweet spot. Just as Mr. Armstrong did in Paris a week ago, we're looking to put the color yellow at the top of the podium in Sonoma."

-j2r-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson