WJ's Brainerd Homecoming Ends in the Semifinals Warren Johnson returned to his native state this past weekend, and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team helped him make it a productive homecoming as they powered their way to the...
WJ's Brainerd Homecoming Ends in the Semifinals
Warren Johnson returned to his native state this past weekend, and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team helped him make it a productive homecoming as they powered their way to the semi-finals of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, MN. Starting from the fourth position, the six-time champion opened with a solid 6.691-second, 206.64 mph pass to defeat Kenny Koretsky. The second round was a family affair, as Johnson improved to a 6.686-second elapsed time in edging his son, Kurt Johnson.
This set the stage for a semifinal encounter with Jeg Coughlin, who had reset the BIR track record in the previous round. Although Johnson was able to record his best reaction of the weekend, immediately after launching, his mount pulled out of the groove and towards the center line, scrubbing off valuable speed. Despite his best efforts to maintain control and reach the finish line first, WJ was eventually forced to lift off the throttle, allowing his opponent to drive on for the win.
Despite having his day end a round early, Johnson found several positives to take with him from this event, as the POWERade Drag Racing circuit heads to Reading, PA next weekend for the conclusion of the first round of this year's Countdown to the Championship.
"Looking at the video of our semi-final run, it looks as if we were trying to save time and make two runs at the same time. In all seriousness, for some reason, the car did not want to go straight on that run. Normally, I'm able to overcome that, but I had the wheel turned to the left by half a turn, and it was not coming back, so I had to shut it down. The ironic part is that, even though I was completely out of the groove where there was no bite, I was still able to keep up with him through the first 330 feet.
"The good news is that we're continuing to make forward strides with our GM Performance Parts GTO in the performance department -- all that we're missing now is the consistency. That tune-up change we made before the fourth qualifying session is what we've been looking for most of this season, and is something we can use going forward. In addition, we extended our lead over the ninth and tenth place racers going into Reading, which I believe puts us in pretty good shape. Although we certainly would have preferred to win for our family, friends and fans in the stands, given the progress we made, it wasn't a bad weekend."