Columbus: GM Racing Saturday summary

Warren Johnson Drives GM Performance Parts Pontiac To 134th Career Raceday Pole Professor Of Pro Stock Establishes E.T. And Speed Track Records HEBRON, Ohio, May 21, 2005 - Warren Johnson captured his 134th career pole today at the 41st annual...

Warren Johnson Drives GM Performance Parts Pontiac To 134th Career Raceday Pole
Professor Of Pro Stock Establishes E.T. And Speed Track Records

HEBRON, Ohio, May 21, 2005 - Warren Johnson captured his 134th career pole today at the 41st annual Pontiac Performance Nationals after setting both ends of the National Trail Raceway track record with a run of 6.723 seconds at 205.13 mph. It is the fourth time this season that the 61-year-old Georgia resident has claimed top qualifying honors, and the ninth time at this event including his first career pole in 1978. Johnson has more raceday poles than any professional driver in the history of the sport.

"For that last session we put a set of carburetors on the car that we hadn't run before," said Johnson. "Since we didn't feel we were going to get bumped off the pole we elected to gamble looking for another combination just in case we need it tomorrow. The speed on the last run was actually better than the first run this morning, so we know that engine with that particular set of carburetors runs good high rpm power. Now it's just a matter of figuring out exactly what the engine wants with that set of carburetors because it was really lazy from the 60 (foot marker) to 330, and from the 330 to the eighth-mile. Most of the e.t. is gained in the first eighth-mile so we have to work on that."

The change of date for the Pontiac Performance Nationals from June to May hasn't seemed to bother the six-time NHRA champion, as he ran the quickest elapsed time in two of the four sessions of time trials. The GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver has won this event four times (1985, 1999, 1999, 2001) and has been runner-up on five occasions (1976, 1986, 1991, 1995-96). This is also the 30th time that Warren Johnson and son Kurt have qualified one and two at a national event with Warren taking the top spot 23 times and Kurt seven times.

"We knew the conditions were going to be good this morning," said Johnson. "That's why we went back to a known combination we've already qualified No. 1 with at number of races this year. We felt that if the conditions were better then we'd improve incrementally in relation to everybody else and stay at the front of the pack.

"From a team aspect the fact that we've been one and two so many times means that both of us are getting about as much out of our particular cars that we possibly can. That's a result of all the guys in our program working with the kind of diligence that they do."

Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Chevy Cobalt will start Sunday's race from the No. 2 position after covering the quarter-mile in 6.724 seconds at 205.01 mph. It is the best qualifying effort thus far for the new Chevrolet since its introduction to NHRA Pro Stock at Bristol, Tenn., in April.

"We found a good spot in the car at Atlanta last Sunday but haven't had a chance to change it until this last run," said Johnson. "Then this Chevy Cobalt just took off. To go 6.723 in the heat like that, .991 to 60-foot, smooth as silk, we're pretty pleased. It's good to find a spot that you can run down a hot racetrack, or a cold racetrack, without making a lot of changes to the suspension, and you can just tune with the clutch and the gear. I think we got it - we're pretty pleased."

The new Chevy Cobalt Pro Stock cars continued to shine during day two of qualifying for the Pontiac Performance Nationals. Ron Krisher's Valvoline Chevrolet ended up in the third spot after a strong run of 6.736 seconds at 204.45 mph.

"We're a little upset," said Krisher. "We missed it a little bit this morning on transmission, and the last run we just got out of the lane, so it looks like we're going to be okay. We just got conservative, but nobody's really outrunning us by very much. The track was just its usual challenging self the first couple of rounds. It was hard to get down, but we got down it."

Mike Edwards Young Life Pontiac is qualified in the fourth position with a 6.741 e.t. at 204.45, and he'll start ahead of No. 5 qualifier Dave Connolly whose Chevy Cobalt ran an identical time as Edwards', but a slightly slower top speed at 204.26 mph.

"We've run good here," said Edwards. "Every one of our runs would've qualified, and I think our worst session was fifth for the round, maybe even fourth. We're happy. We missed it a little bit today with the tune-up, and then I tried some things in that last session, but we're happy. We made four really nice runs here and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

"Not only did we sneak in the field, we snuck in the top half," said Connolly. "We just keep trying things, picking away at this Cobalt. In fact, it's acting real good right now. (Grumpy) Jenkins went back and got his steam back, so it definitely helps with some horsepower under the hood and it really helped us out making better runs.

"You've got to put on a good show," added Connolly who's from Elyria, Ohio, and calls National Trail Raceway home. "We've got lots of friends and family here, so hopefully we can put it in the winner's circle for them tomorrow."

Greg Anderson has the Summit Racing Pontiac qualified in the No. 8 position with a run of 6.751 seconds at 204.45 mph and teammate Jason Line is qualified 11th in a Pontiac.

"We've been busy so far this weekend," said Anderson. "We've been changing motors, changing parts on the car, just doing a lot of things to try and catch up with the racetrack. And we did hurt a motor, so it's been a busy weekend. The good thing about it is that the last qualifying round we made we were closer to the top than we've been on any other run, so that shows we're going in the right direction and that's the encouraging part. The part that's a little bit bothersome is that we haven't done it quicker than the last try, and we didn't qualify where we needed to qualify. We've got one car on the bottom of the ladder and one in the right in the middle, so that's the discouraging part. But it did show that we're on the upswing, and we think we're learning what this track wants. Hopefully tomorrow, first round, we'll have a better setup than we had today. If it continues like it is, we think we're gaining on what it needs out there."

Rickie Smith is 12th in a Chevrolet and Jim Yates will start tomorrow's race from the No. 13 spot. The bump was 6.774 seconds and all 16 qualified Pro Stock cars finished under the previous track record of 6.790 seconds.

-gm racing-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Rickie Smith , Mike Edwards