Bristol: Warren Johnson preview

WJ is a Fixture in Bristol Dragway's Storied History GM Performance Parts GTO crew ready to successfully defend their title at the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals Sugar Hill, Ga., April 26, 2006 -- Warren Johnson's legendary drag racing...

WJ is a Fixture in Bristol Dragway's Storied History

GM Performance Parts GTO crew ready to successfully defend their title at the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals

Sugar Hill, Ga., April 26, 2006 -- Warren Johnson's legendary drag racing career spans over four decades, dating back to the 1970's when he piloted a monstrous, big-block Camaro which he nicknamed "The Incredible Hulk". Over the years, many things have changed, from the names of his fellow competitors to the design of the race cars, with his current GM Performance Parts GTO representing the very latest in Pro Stock technology. However, there have also been several constants in "The Professor's" competitive efforts, including his relationship with Bristol Dragway, site of this weekend's O'Reilly Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals.

Since first coming to the Tennessee quarter-mile in 1979, Johnson has established an unparalleled record of success, encompassing eight wins and ten final round appearances while racing under two different sanctioning bodies, making him the only professional competitor to have accomplished this feat. This weekend, he will look to further add to this lengthy list and successfully defend his NHRA Pro Stock title from one year ago.

"I can honestly say I've done very well racing over the years in Bristol," stated Johnson. "It's been a pretty productive racetrack for us, with multiple wins in both the IHRA and NHRA programs, so our entire GM Performance Parts GTO crew certainly looks forward to racing there every year.

"When I first came to Thunder Valley in 1979, it was a decent place, but you wouldn't even recognize the racetrack from back then as opposed to the tremendous facility we will be visiting this weekend. About the only thing that has stayed the same are the mountains on both sides of the track.

"Bruton Smith and his group have done a magnificent job of making this track user-friendly for racers and fans alike. The tower is second to none, the surface is as good as we will run on all year long, and the pits have been expanded to twice of what they were when I first raced here. We've managed to win twice since the track was reconfigured, and we certainly hope to continue that success this weekend."

Naturally, a key ingredient to Johnson's repeating his winning effort from 2005 is the performance of his race car. In the first five races, it has shown flashes of power and speed, winning one race and setting top speed of the event twice. However, a strong performance in the early stages of the run has been somewhat elusive, making that area the primary focus of WJ and his young crew as they head to the Volunteer State.

"This GM Performance Parts GTO continues to come around nicely," said Johnson. "We're going to be testing in Atlanta on Tuesday before the race to make sure everything is in order and to see if we can uncover any additional performance jewels. We've been running top speeds indicating that we have plenty of power, but we have to do a better job of getting it through the drive train and to the ground, which was the only area we needed to address. Fortunately, it's all starting to gel as far as our sixty-foot times are concerned.

"The only wild card facing all Pro Stock competitors is the track preparation. With officials still trying to determine how to treat the track for the new Fuel tire, we're not sure what kind of surface we will race on until we get there, making it somewhat of a crapshoot. However, we're all in the same boat, so it is just up to us to make sure we adapt to it quicker and more efficiently than everyone else. If we do that, and I believe we will, it will be another great weekend in Thunder Valley."

-j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson