19th ANNUAL ADVANCE AUTO PARTS SOUTHERN NATIONALS ATLANTA DRAGWAY COMMERCE, GEORGIA SUNDAY, MAY 16, 1999 PRO STOCK -- WINNER Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) We ran decent today, but everybody for the most part...
19th ANNUAL ADVANCE AUTO PARTS SOUTHERN NATIONALS ATLANTA DRAGWAY COMMERCE, GEORGIA SUNDAY, MAY 16, 1999
PRO STOCK -- WINNER
Warren Johnson (GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird) We ran decent today, but everybody for the most part did pretty well considering it was pretty hot out there. Negotiating the track to make a quick run was the hard part. Everybody was a little afraid of the racetrack, and I don't think rightfully so because they just all felt you couldn't get down the left hand lane. We've tested here in the left hand lane, have run well in that lane and it's not a problem as long as you adjust the shift points so that you're not shifting on the bump. In some cases, we've tested quicker in the left than in the right.
Is it nice to give the hometown fans something to cheer about? We have to win these races first for our team. I would have to say that it's a little extra special to win what we refer to as our home track. We're only 40 miles from here and we had a lot of people that we work with out this weekend, so yeah, it means a lot. It gives us a little more incentive if you will.
Did you know that Stevens had red-lighted? No. I knew I had a decent light, but we got a little greedy in the final, put too much rpm to it and shook the tires in first and second. In third gear after it settled down a little bit, I looked for where he was and I was thinking, 'if he didn't red-light, I don't think I can catch him.' When I looked up in fourth gear, I saw the win light on and that's when I knew he red-lighted. It was roughly at half track before I realized that.
Any sense of revenge over this place from last year? Not revenge, but probably more gratification, and consoling since we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot like we did last year. First round last year we tried something that we hadn't tried before, and we wouldn't have tried it if we didn't have some inkling that it would be the right direction to go. Unfortunately it wasn't and that's what cost us the first round last year. We just got too aggressive with the clutch setup, it shook the tires immediately and it didn't go anyplace. This year we played it much more conservatively with the exception of the final round.
With the exception of Kurt, your points lead over the field is pretty large. Does that give you the opportunity to accelerate your testing program? We'd love to but we have so many appearance obligations, and back to back races that we don't have the luxury of doing a lot of testing. We leave here Tuesday night for Buzz Creek, Md., which is an open race, but we'll use that as a test prior to Englishtown. Then we may test the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Firebird after Englishtown depending on what our stockpile of engine pieces are. We'd like to test as much as possible but sometimes there's just not enough hours in the day - and in some cases not enough equipment.
Anybody mention to you that Stevens was just 13 when you won your last Southern Nationals? That's kind of a different way of looking at it, but I've always said there are two ways to excel at anything: youth and enthusiasm or age and treachery. In a lot of cases experience on racetracks plays to your advantage. In most cases, there's no such thing as knowing too much and the more you can utilize that information positively, it works to your advantage.
Do you think he may have been a little intimidated off the line and that's why he red lighted? It's just a situation where he was at a performance disadvantage as far as the actual performance numbers. Then he felt he was in an inferior lane. So he was going to do everything he possibly could do to win. And that's what it's all about. You can't fault him for that. You're better to try and fail than to never try at all, and I have to give the kid credit for going up there with the positive attitude that he has to do everything in his power to win. He tried and he came up a little short. That's just the way it is. There's no shame in losing. You have one winner and one loser and he's going to be on the winning side one of these days too. He realizes that he has to do everything he can when he gets to the final round and some day it's going to work in his favor.