DESPITE CLINCHING TITLE, JOHNSON STILL FOCUSED ON WINNING RACES ENNIS, Texas -- That gleam you see beaming from Warren Johnson's eyes lately isn't some self- satisfying acknowledgment that lets everyone know he's already secured a...
DESPITE CLINCHING TITLE, JOHNSON STILL FOCUSED ON WINNING RACES
ENNIS, Texas -- That gleam you see beaming from Warren Johnson's eyes lately isn't some self- satisfying acknowledgment that lets everyone know he's already secured a fourth Winston Pro Stock championship.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
That gleam continues to radiate the deadly stare of an eight-time winner, still hungry for more in a 1998 season that has arguably been one of the best in his storied career.
With the final three events serving as only a mere formality before he can officially begin his championship celebration, Johnson could realistically just kick back and relax. Take it easy. Maybe spend some quality time working on his championship awards speech, or clear a spot on the mantle for a new trophy. Perhaps he could conduct a couple of short seminars titled 'Pro Stock 101', for son Kurt and Jeg Coughlin as they battle for second place.
He's definitely got options.
But the 55-year-old driver who has devoted much of his life to drag racing doesn't have time for such hanky-panky. As long as there's races to be run, Johnson's aim is to win them all.
"Winning the events is the main thing," the GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird driver said. "Whether the championship is won or not -- we don't even think about that. All we think about is how we've moved into position to win the championship and continue from there. Hopefully, that will give us some more round wins and put us in position to win more races, because that is the major concern. After you win rounds, you can win the race, then you win championships."
Johnson will try to add career win No. 72 to his growing list of accomplishments at the 13th annual Revell Nationals presented by HiLo/O'Reilly Auto Parts, Oct. 22-25 at the Texas Motorplex.
And Johnson has a good motivation going for him at the $1.7-million race, the 20th of 22 events in the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. He hasn't won at this event since 1989. For a guys who's primary mission is to win races, that must seem like an eternity.
"There hasn't been any single reason why we've not won this particular event in while," Johnson said. "Sometimes in racing these things go in phases. We've all had our little slumps at this track or that track, for whatever reason. We've won races at Dallas before, it's a good track. I feel pretty confident about our chances of ending that streak this year. Our GM Goodwrench Pontiac has been running well lately and we've been winning a few races."
Johnson, who earned Pro Stock championships in 1992, 1993 and 1995, says winning the title during a season that featured such great parity among all competitors is special.
"I think (winning the championship this season) is the result of being more prepared," Johnson said. "If you look at the championships we won in the past, and even the championships that (Bob) Glidden won, the spread between No. 1 and the 16 qualifier was significant. It was smaller during this championship than in any other I won. Anybody who makes the race on Sunday is capable of winning the race. That means we had to have a more consistent car and we had to be better prepared because the car was more consistent. It's not just the car. It's the crew, the driver and everyone on this team working in the same direction trying to win the rounds, the races and the championship. We all pulled together this year and it paid off."