Sonoma: Warren Johnson preview

WJ Battles Withdrawal Symptoms, Remains Productive on the Road GM Performance Parts GTO Racer Multi-tasks en route to Infineon Raceway Sugar Hill, Ga., July 24, 2007 -- By his own admission, Hall of Fame Pro Stock racer Warren Johnson is ...

WJ Battles Withdrawal Symptoms, Remains Productive on the Road
GM Performance Parts GTO Racer Multi-tasks en route to Infineon Raceway

Sugar Hill, Ga., July 24, 2007 -- By his own admission, Hall of Fame Pro Stock racer Warren Johnson is happiest when deeply immersed in an engineering project. Whether grinding a set of heads for the 1,400-horsepower DRCE III in his GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO or working on new components for the LSX aftermarket block, this avowed workaholic will use every waking hour to the fullest.

However, for the last two weeks, The Professor has been on somewhat of a forced sabbatical, traveling across the country with his wife Arlene in their motorhome as part of the NHRA's traditional three-race "Western Swing", stopping in Denver, CO and Seattle, WA before heading to the California wine country for this weekend's Fram Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, CA. Not surprisingly, despite being thousands of miles away from his Sugar Hill, GA shop, and not having any tools or race parts to work on, the resourceful Johnson has still found a way to overcome any potential withdrawal symptoms by passing the time productively, even while behind the wheel.

"Talk about your ultimate frustration -- this is worse than being marooned on an island," quipped Johnson. "In reality, though, all is not lost, because I will use this as what I call my cerebral time, thinking about projects I need to be working on, or others that are looming in the future, allowing me to formulate a game plan, not only for the rest of this season, but even looking forward into next year. I've got a few that I've worked on mentally that I will put into motion once we get back to the shop, which will hopefully bear some fruit in the near future.

"For example, driving between these three races, I can go over the last event, thinking about what we learned and how we can incorporate it into our GM Performance Parts GTO in order to improve our performance. As such, it is time well spent, and something I might not get to do at the shop, where I am usually occupied working on something physically, as opposed to this mental exercise. But at this point, I believe I've logged enough windshield time in our motorhome to last for the rest of the year."

The Johnson-driven coach will next head to the California wine country for the conclusion of the NHRA's traditional "Western Swing. Over the last few weeks, the GM Performance Parts crew has started to hit their stride, with their improved qualifying and final elimination performances allowing them to climb back into contention for the second stage of the Countdown to the Championship. They will look to continue this positive trend this weekend at scenic Infineon Raceway.

"The best part of this year's Western Swing is that we have improved upon our performance in this stretch of races from a year ago something we hope to continue doing in Sonoma this weekend," said Johnson. "We went to the semis in Denver, and the second round in Sonoma, and our GM Performance Parts GTO has been increasingly more competitive, running within twelve thousandths of the fastest car out there.

"I've made some changes in the engine department, and Terry (crew chief Adams) has been working with Adam and Bobby (crew members Drzyaich and Wunderlich) on improving the chassis, and it all seems to be coming together. We're certainly going in the right direction in the performance department -- now it's up to us to expand on it.

"Although we're currently in a position to make the second stage of the Countdown, it is at best a precarious perch, but I prefer being where we are than 40 points behind. Things are working well for us right now, so we're not about to change our game plan heading into Sonoma.

"We expect the track at Infineon to be quite reminiscent of the one we just raced on in Seattle, although hopefully a lot drier. For example, Seattle is at 280 feet of altitude, while Sonoma is around 150 feet. We can also see very cold or hot temperatures there, just as we've seen in Seattle. If the cool air comes in off the Pacific, it could be very fast. We'll just have to see what we have when we get there, and adjust accordingly. Of course, the facility itself is among the very best on the circuit, and we always look forward to racing there. We've certainly had our share of success there in the past, and we look forward to another vintage performance in the California wine country."

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson