Warren Johnson testing notes 97-01-18

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Rick Voegelin/408-761-2201 WARREN JOHNSON BREAKS 200mph BARRIER IN PRE-SEASON TEST Gainesville, Fla.; January 18, 1997 -- Warren Johnson unofficially became the first NHRA Pro Stock driver...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Rick Voegelin/408-761-2201

WARREN JOHNSON BREAKS 200mph BARRIER IN PRE-SEASON TEST

Gainesville, Fla.; January 18, 1997 -- Warren Johnson unofficially became the first NHRA Pro Stock driver to break the 200 mph barrier during pre-season testing today at Gainesville Raceway. At 2:15 p.m., Johnson's GM Performance Parts Pontiac rocketed to a 6.93-second elapsed time at 200.00 mph -- the fastest run ever by an NHRA-legal Pro Stock.

One hour and 15 minutes later, Troy Coughlin became the first Pro Stock driver to run in the 6.80's when he covered the Gainesville quarter-mile in 6.897 seconds at 199.60 mph in a WJ-powered Firebird. Coughlin then became the second Pro Stock driver to top 200 mph when he ran 6.905/200.00 at 5:00 p.m.

"We achieved two goals in one weekend -- we ran 200 mph and ran in the 6.80s," said Johnson, the winningest Pro Stock driver of the Nineties. "Both cars were at NHRA-legal weight, since the object of the exercise is to get everything sorted out for the start of the new season."

Johnson was testing his new GM Performance Parts Pontiac constructed by Jerry Haas. Coughlin, who will use WJ power in 1997, was driving the Don Ness Firebird that Johnson campaigned in 17 NHRA national events last season. The car was subsequently reworked by Rick Jones.

"There were no other cars testing on Saturday that we could use as a gauge for our performance," Warren reported. "Obviously the conditions were prime. We made five runs on the new Haas chassis -- two half passes to get the suspension straightened out, and then three full runs. It went 199.60 mph on the first pass, 200.00 on the second, and then 199.86. If we had the Ness car that I ran at the end of the season, I think we could have seen a 6.88 or 6.87 e.t."

Johnson currently holds the official NHRA Pro Stock speed record at 199.15 mph -- a mark he set at Houston Raceway Park on March 10, 1995. His first opportunity to reset the record will be at the season-opening NHRA Chief Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., on January 30-February 2.

Coughlin had his first taste of WJ power at the private test. "Troy is the most laid-back driver I've seen," Warren noted. "After he ran 200 mph, I asked him how it felt. He said, 'Cool.' Then I asked him how the engine responded; he said, 'It's neat.' Troy did allow that he'd never felt an engine with so much bottom end power."

On Friday, Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Firebird stopped the Gainesville Raceway timers at 6.96/199.02. Kurt was back in the team's headquarters in Sugar Hill, Georgia, on Saturday when the 200 mph barrier came tumbling down.

Warren and Kurt will continue their pre-season testing at Houston Raceway Park on January 24-26. "If time permits, we'll run our Rick Jones Pro Mod-style chassis again in Houston," Warren revealed. "I have a high degree of confidence that it will be a real good race car when we get everything dialed in." WJ's innovative double-rail Jones chassis ran a best of 7.03/196.76 in an earlier test session in Gainesville.

Asked to assess his outlook for the 1997 season after his historic 200 mph run, Warren replied with characteristic understatement: "I think we're in good shape."

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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 19-Jan-1997

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Series NHRA
Drivers Troy Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Jerry Haas