WJ Battles to the 13th Starting Spot in Topeka Qualifying for the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals proved to be quite a challenge for Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team. After a mechanical issue prevented them from ...
WJ Battles to the 13th Starting Spot in Topeka
Qualifying for the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals proved to be quite a challenge for Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team. After a mechanical issue prevented them from making their first qualifying attempt on Friday afternoon, they found themselves in the unenviable position of being among the very first Pro Stock entries to make an attempt on the tricky Topeka racing surface, where the lack of adequate rubber put the amount of available traction at a premium.
Aided by late-night repairs performed on the track on Friday night, the Johnson-led crew was able to dial in a workable tune-up, and, on their last attempt, tripped the finish line timers in 6.763 seconds with a top speed of 204.76 mph to claim the 13th starting position for Sunday's final eliminations.
"First and foremost, I really have to commend the people that laid the concrete -- I haven't seen bathtubs that are that smooth. They did an excellent job -- unfortunately, it was the wrong type of surface for this application. As a result, we were unable to get the right amount of heat in the tires, providing a perfect illustration of why these Pro Stock Cars need a proper burnout. The track really wasn't the issue -- we just couldn't get to it.
"Although it will have to be fully addressed after this weekend is over, the NHRA and the staff at Heartland Park Topeka did a yeoman's job of grinding it last night so we could make a halfway decent burnout, especially in the right hand lane, where there is a significant slant in the burnout area.
"In our case, we also had a mechanical failure in Q1 that, combined with the track issues, essentially put us behind the eight ball. We found ourselves running in the front of the order, before sufficient rubber had been put down. We could maneuver around at the line, but it hurt us further down track.
"We finally softened it up enough for the last run to get our GM Performance Parts GTO down the track and in the show. We felt that if we could get through the first 100 feet, we could run a '.76, which is precisely what we did. Now we just have to muster the courage to attack those first 100 feet, and see what we can do tomorrow."