Baytown: Warren Johnson eliminations summary

WJ's record run ends prematurely in a Houston photo-finish. After establishing a new elapsed time record and claiming the 128th No. 1 qualifying performance of his career with his 6.720-second, 204.66 mph run during qualifying, Warren Johnson...

WJ's record run ends prematurely in a Houston photo-finish.

After establishing a new elapsed time record and claiming the 128th No. 1 qualifying performance of his career with his 6.720-second, 204.66 mph run during qualifying, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Racing team had high hopes entering Sunday's final eliminations of the O'Reilly Spring Nationals. However, with atmospheric conditions completely unlike those encountered during qualifying, the challenge would be in finding the right set-up to tame a hot and slick Houston Raceway Park track.

Any questions concerning Johnson's ability to adapt to the conditions were answered during his first round match-up against J.R. Carr, as he posted a solid 6.813-second elapsed time with a top speed of 203.06 mph to easily advance to the second round.

However, Johnson's task became more difficult in the second round, as he would face long-time rival Scott Geoffrion, who had also been among the fastest cars in Pro Stock. Geoffrion was able to gain a slight edge at the start, and although W.J. responded by running the second quickest pass of the round at 6.801 seconds and 203.40 mph, it was not enough to prevent his rival from gaining the closest victory of the day, with the final margin of victory an infinitesimal two 10/1000ths of a second. Fortunately, despite the loss, Johnson remained optimistic based on his race car's performance, as well as the twenty bonus points earned by setting the national record.

"Scott had everything to gain and nothing to lose, and won it by two 10/100ths of a second - that's about a third of an inch. There's not much you can do about that. If I had staged a half-inch deeper, it might not have happened, but I would also run the risk of red-lighting. It's just racing.

"However, we can leave here satisfied with our GM Performance Parts Grand Am's performance. Lately we hadn't been able to run any speed with this car, which had us concerned. That problem seems to be somewhat alleviated, as we seem to be back at the level we were in Pomona. Kurt and I certainly seemed to have a slight edge on most of our competitors today, and considering we should be seeing conditions like these for the next few months, we're hoping it's an indication of things to come. We're pleased with where we are performance-wise, now we just have to fix race day."

-gk-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Scott Geoffrion , J.R. Carr