THE WARREN REPORT: Warren Johnson GM Goodwrench Service Plus News & Notes for the Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta, May 4-6, 2001 THE HEAT IS ON When Warren Johnson relocated his family from Minnesota to Georgia 20 years ago...
THE WARREN REPORT: Warren Johnson GM Goodwrench Service Plus News & Notes for the Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta, May 4-6, 2001
THE HEAT IS ON
When Warren Johnson relocated his family from Minnesota to Georgia 20 years ago in pursuit of year-round racing weather, he traded endless icy winters for long, sweltering summers. Two decades in his adopted home state have acclimated Johnson to the heat that the NHRA drag racing tour will encounter in the months ahead.
Johnson expects his GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac to be a potent weapon at this weekend's Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. "We raced the new car for the first time on a hot track last week in Bristol," said the Professor of Pro Stock, "and we came out of there with a map that showed us the direction we should take. I'm very optimistic about this weekend."
No one will need to show Warren and his GM Goodwrench Service Plus team the way to Atlanta Dragway for this weekend's race. The track is just 40 miles from his "skunk works" in suburban Sugar Hill, Ga. In fact, Warren's transporters can probably negotiate the route to the Commerce track on autopilot, since the team tests there frequently.
W.J. has competed in all 20 previous editions of the Southern Nationals, notching four wins, seven final-round appearances, and nine No. 1 qualifying spots. In spite of his familiarity with the Atlanta quarter-mile, Warren discounts the notion of a home field advantage at the Southern Nationals. "After NHRA grooms the track for a national event, the racing surface is not going to be the same as when we test there," he explained.
Warren comes into the Southern Nationals with a thin seven-point lead over his son Kurt in the Winston championship standings. After back-to-back wins in Phoenix and Houston, W.J. hasn't advanced past the second round in the last three races. Now he is working overtime to return to his winning ways.
"We're stockpiling parts for the next four races and we have motors stacked up to the ceiling," Johnson laughed. "We'll have nine complete engines to get us through Atlanta, Englishtown, Topeka, and Chicago. The rigs will come back to Atlanta after every race to restock. That will mean a lot of highway time for the crews, but that's why they put steering wheels and sleepers in trucks.
"We just installed a new dyno and I plan to step up our engine development program," he added. "Our last dyno was 17 years old. We probably made 15,000 runs on it, so I definitely got my money's worth. The new dyno is very user friendly so we can test engines quickly. It also mounts the motor about six inches lower, so people who are vertically challenged can work on it easily. Now I can change the carburetors without standing on a paint bucket!" <pre> WARREN JOHNSON'S ATLANTA DRAGWAY RECORD Year Qual. Result 1981 7 First Round 1982 4 Second Round 1983 4 Second Round 1984 1 Second Round 1985 1 Second Round 1986 1 Winner (over Glidden) 1987 5 Second Round 1988 2 Winner (over Christian) 1989 2 Second Round 1990 3 Runner-up (to Morgan) 1991 4 Runner-up (to Glidden) 1992 4 Second Round 1993 1 Winner (over K. Johnson) 1994 1 Runner-up (to Geoffrion) 1995 1 Semi-final 1996 2 First Round 1997 1 Semi-final 1998 2 First Round 1999 1 Winner (over Stevens) 2000 1 First Round