Johnson Scores Third Straight Win at Pennzoil Nationals, Extends Pro Stock Points Lead Baytown, Texas; March 22, 1998 -- Warren Johnson continued his torrid 200 mph pace at the NHRA Pennzoil Nationals, scoring his third...
Johnson Scores Third Straight Win at Pennzoil Nationals, Extends Pro Stock Points Lead
Baytown, Texas; March 22, 1998 -- Warren Johnson continued his torrid 200 mph pace at the NHRA Pennzoil Nationals, scoring his third consecutive victory in the Winston Drag Racing Series and notching his 66th career national event win. W.J.'s victory over Mike Thomas in the final round, coupled with a first-round loss by Jim Yates, gave Johnson a 97-point lead in the championship race after four rounds of the 22-race series.
Johnson's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac topped 200 mph six times at Houston Raceway Park, finally setting the track speed record at 201.11 mph. W.J. qualified No. 1 at 6.874 seconds, just 1/1000th of a second off the 6.873-second national elapsed time record he set in Gainesville, Fla., at the preceding event. The Pennzoil Nationals Pro Stock field was the quickest in NHRA history with a 6.940-second bump spot.
Johnson enjoyed a solid performance advantage throughout eliminations as he defeated Larry Morgan in the first round by a tenth of a second, Ron Krisher in the second round by seven hundredths, and Jeg Coughlin, Jr. in the semi-finals by a tenth of a second. Warren's 6.878/201.02 mph run in the final round easily outdistanced Thomas' 6.926/198.01 mph pass.
"We've historically done well here in Houston because it's a great racetrack and we can take advantage of our power," Warren reported after capturing his third career Pennzoil Nationals title. "We didn't have a very good day as far as my driving was concerned, but the car made up for it."
With his three-race streak, Johnson has regained the winning form that propelled him to three NHRA championships. "We've tossed down the gauntlet, and shown the performance numbers that are possible," Warren declared. "We sacrificed last season to experiment with cars, engines, and drivetrains. These are the fruits of our labor from last year.
"Everybody on the team is focused on the same thing -- winning rounds, winning races, and hopefully winning the championship."
The NHRA tour travels to Rockingham, North Carolina, for the non-points Winston Invitational on April 3-5 -- an event that Johnson has won four times. The race for the Pro Stock championship will resume on April 17-19 at W.J.'s hometown track in Atlanta.
WARREN JOHNSON GM GOODWRENCH SERVICE PLUS NHRA PENNZOIL NATIONALS RACE SUMMARY
QUALIFYING: Warren Johnson qualified No. 1 at 6.874/200.80 ELIMINATIONS: Round 1: Warren Johnson (6.875/201.11) defeated Larry Morgan (6.981/197.32) Round 2: Warren Johnson (6.914/200.08) defeated Ron Krisher (6.993/196.85 -- red light) Semi-Final: Warren Johnson (6.907/199.91) defeated Jeg Coughlin, Jr. (7.015/198.28) Final Round: Warren Johnson (6.878/201.02) defeated Mike Thomas (6.926/198.01)
LOW ET: Warren Johnson, 6.874 seconds (track record) TOP SPEED: Warren Johnson, 201.11 mph (track record)
PRO STOCK STANDINGS: (after 4 of 22 events; victories in parentheses): 1. Warren Johnson (3) 443 points 2. Jim Yates (1) 346 3. Jeg Coughlin, Jr. 297 4. Mark Osborne 236 5. Mike Thomas 197 6. Kurt Johnson 196
NEXT EVENT: April 3-5, NHRA Winston Invitational (non-points special event), Rockingham, N.C. (TV: April 12, 1:30-2:30 p.m., TNN -- check local listings)