Brainerd: Warren Johnson preview

Warren Johnson is Ready to Bounce Back in Brainerd GM Performance Parts team looks to regain winning form at Lucas Oil Nationals SUGAR HILL, GA., August 9, 2004 - Throughout his illustrious NHRA Pro Stock career, Warren Johnson has assumed many...

Warren Johnson is Ready to Bounce Back in Brainerd
GM Performance Parts team looks to regain winning form at Lucas Oil Nationals

SUGAR HILL, GA., August 9, 2004 - Throughout his illustrious NHRA Pro Stock career, Warren Johnson has assumed many responsibilities in addition to that of driver of the GM Performance Parts Grand Am. From developing the engines that power his race car to making the tuning decisions to effectively deliver that horsepower to the race track, "The Professor" has done whatever is necessary to ensure his team is in contention for the win at every race.

At this weekend's Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, MN, WJ will look to add yet another role, that of exterminator to his racing resume, as he and his crew will look to eradicate the various gremlins that have seemingly plagued them throughout the 2004 POWERade Drag Racing season.

"Our fortunes have been such this season that sometimes I think we have Murphy on our payroll," joked Johnson. "In some ways, it has just been bizarre. For example, during the first day of qualifying in Sonoma, we seized a piston in our primary motor, a problem I haven't experienced in 15 years. To say the least, it has been a challenge, but our resolve remains as strong as ever.

"We've shown flashes of the performance necessary to win races, but have yet to do so on a consistent basis. We also seem to have glitches arise at the most inopportune moment, which certainly doesn't help. On the positive side, we know our difficulties are not due to a lack of effort, because the GM Performance Parts crew has been working non-stop to get back to the winner's circle. It's a matter of adapting our approach to deal with the various anomalies we're suddenly encountering throughout the year."

Since their return from the West Coast, the veteran Johnson crew has focused on analyzing data and performing a thorough, nose-to-tail inspection of every component on their race car. Although encouraged by the progress achieved under difficult circumstances at the last race, the team is more concerned about what they will achieve at the next event, and are determined to return to their winning ways at Brainerd International Raceway.

"Getting the car to perform consistently is our first priority," detailed Johnson. "Although we are always looking to pick up our performance, we're certainly not at a huge horsepower disadvantage. We simply need to get ourselves worked into a routine where we are able to make good, repeatable runs. Ironically, our last two runs in Sonoma were probably the best our car has appeared to respond all season long, so hopefully, we've turned the corner."

Finally, although this weekend marks a homecoming for native Minnesotan Johnson, he is quick to dispel the notion of his having an edge on his competitors.

"I really don't believe there is such a thing as a home track advantage in the NHRA any more," said Johnson. "For example, Brainerd has been resurfaced twice since I raced there on a continuous basis. Last year, we had to deal with a track that, although smooth, was too soft due to there being too much oil in the asphalt mix, which made it difficult to get a handle on. With a year of curing, I expect the race track to be excellent, but I certainly have no first hand experience on it.

"However, the one constant we seem to always depend on at Brainerd is not being able to run as fast as we do on other tracks. Historically, the numbers you expect just don't come up on the scoreboard, by as much as five hundredths slower than what you would expect to run. But it will be the same for everyone, leaving it up to us to do a better job than our competitors. The GM Performance Parts team has all the cards necessary to assemble a winning hand - we just have to stop drawing jokers."

Facts on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Racing Team entering The Lucas Oil Nationals:

* WJ is at home in Brainerd: This will be Warren's 23rd NHRA Pro Stock national event appearance in Brainerd, where he has four wins (tied with Bob Glidden and Bruce Allen for the most by any active Pro Stock driver) in five final round appearances, and a 41-18 elimination round record for a .695 win percentage.

* Warren's Qualifying Stats in Minnesota: In his twenty-two previous starts at Brainerd International Raceway, WJ has four No. 1 qualifying positions, with an average starting position of 4, and only four starts outside the top four spots.

* One year ago: WJ qualified sixth with an elapsed time of 6.911 seconds with a top speed of 199.49 mph, but was tripped up by a red-light start in the first round.

* Winning Streak: Warren Johnson is looking to extend a streak where has won at least one race a year for 22 consecutive years, which is the longest in NHRA history.

* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 92 national event victories are the most ever in the history of the Pro Stock division and place him second on the all-time NHRA win list. His most recent win came last year at the Lucas Oil Nationals in Reading, PA.

* Career best elapsed time: 6.715 seconds, Englishtown 2003

* Career best top speed: 205.69 mph, Englishtown 2003

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Bob Glidden , Bruce Allen