St. Louis: Warren Johnson preview

Back-to-Back Races Are No Bother to WJ GM Performance Parts GXP crew heads to O'Reilly Midwest Nationals looking to continue progress in early-run performance Sugar Hill, Ga., May 1, 2008 -- For the first time in the 2008 season, the POWERade...

Back-to-Back Races Are No Bother to WJ
GM Performance Parts GXP crew heads to O'Reilly Midwest Nationals looking to continue progress in early-run performance

Sugar Hill, Ga., May 1, 2008 -- For the first time in the 2008 season, the POWERade Drag Racing Series will be competing on consecutive weekends, heading directly from the recently completed event in Atlanta to Madison, IL for the O'Reilly Midwest Nationals. With less than four days in which to tear down their pit area in Georgia, perform their between-race maintenance, travel the nearly 610 miles to Gateway International Raceway and set up camp, teams will have to work overtime just to be ready for the first qualifying session on Friday afternoon.

However, with the experience of almost 530 Pro Stock races under his belt, six-time champion Warren Johnson sees no reason for concern due to the abbreviated time frame, having simply made some minor adjustments to his GM Performance Parts Pontiac crew's normal race week routine.

"The only thing that having races on consecutive weekends does is shorten the amount of time you have to complete your work," said Johnson. "As a result, you may have to forego some of the frills, but the basic assignments still have to be completed. In our case, that means we won't be taking the motor out of our GM Performance Parts GXP, as we wouldn't have time to rebuild it.

"Naturally, in this circumstance, it certainly helps to have your program be as competitive as ours currently is. Although our search for this car's ultimate sweet spot continues, there are no major changes required heading into the St. Louis race. To us, it's just another day at the office."

Although WJ's team remains essentially unchanged from a year ago, they arrive at the Gateway City with their program in a much better position. Having set top speed of the event at the last four races, they have shown they have the horsepower to get the job done. In addition, entering their fifth race with their Missouri-built race car, they have started to zero in on its performance envelope. It is a combination that has given this young crew cause for quiet optimism, tempered slightly by the challenge of the GIR racing surface and another tightly-packed Pro Stock field.

"Overall, our GM Performance Parts GXP is in better shape now than it was before Atlanta," said Johnson. "We had lost a little performance in the early part of the run, particularly the first sixty feet, so we had been working to find the right approach to get it back. Apparently, we got part of it back in the fourth round of qualifying, so now it's just a matter of pursuing that area some more. If we can improve our performance in the front half without losing anything in the back half, we could start seeing some significant gains.

"However, this weekend we may also be dealing with a new racing surface. I'm not quite sure what they have done to it, but we will find out soon enough. In any case, our primary goal is to do an effective job of adapting to whatever track we have to run on. It is a formula that we used to win twice in the past at Gateway International Raceway, and I see no reason why we can't do it a third time this weekend."

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson