Columbus: Warren Johnson preview

Warren Johnson works instead of worrying about competition GM Performance Parts driver looks for return to Pontiac Excitement Nationals winner's circle SUGAR HILL, GA., June 8, 2004 - Throughout his illustrious career, GM Performance Parts pilot...

Warren Johnson works instead of worrying about competition
GM Performance Parts driver looks for return to Pontiac Excitement Nationals winner's circle

SUGAR HILL, GA., June 8, 2004 - Throughout his illustrious career, GM Performance Parts pilot Warren Johnson has rewritten the NHRA record books, raising the bar in virtually every category. His 92 national event wins are the most by anyone in the Pro Stock division, outpacing such legends as Bob Glidden and Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins. In addition, his 130 No. 1 qualifying performances and 142 final round appearances lead all professional categories. As such, every week his on-track exploits are held to a higher standard than those of many of his competitors.

Therefore, even though he is one of only five drivers to have won in the last 20 races, and scored a runner-up finish at this year's Winternationals, some have expressed concern over Johnson's current seventh-place standing in the POWERade points entering this weekend's Pontiac Excitement Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. "The Professor", however, knows the season has not even reached its midpoint, and remains focused on finding a means to return the GM Performance Parts Grand Am to the Columbus winner's circle.

"As anyone who has ever participated in a competitive endeavor will tell you, things do not always run smoothly," stated Johnson. "It's how you respond to these down periods that truly defines a team's character."

"Although I wouldn't say we are particularly pleased by our performance to this point, we have been competitive, and we've been close on several occasions. Unfortunately, just being close doesn't win races, which is this team's yardstick. We're not going to worry about it, we're simply going to fix it."

Naturally, the team's primary focus in this venture has been on their race car. With the luxury of a weekend without racing prior to the next event, Johnson and his crew performed a thorough examination of all facets of their racing operation, searching for the extra performance that will return them to the top.

"Since we've returned from Topeka we've taken the entire car apart, dissecting every component," explained Johnson. "We've also compared our set-up to the one that Kurt has been running in his car, because the chassis are identical, and adjusted accordingly. It's a matter of finding out what our GM Performance Parts Grand Am needs to consistently go down the racetrack."

"We've taken a hard look at everything, determined our strengths and weaknesses, and focused on the areas that caused us to get into this predicament. In other words, we're working our way out of it."

"I believe we're doing fine in the power department. We're continuing to run the DRCE 3 engines, which at this point are fairly equal to the best of our DRCE 2 equipment, which we're using in Kurt's car. However, we need to get this car to leave the starting line better than it has. Our sixty-foot times are nowhere near what they should be, always falling in the middle of the pack, not near the top of the charts. If we can fix that, we should be in pretty good shape."

Johnson's record at previous races held at National Trail Raceway would seem to bolster his chances for a return to the winner's circle this weekend, as well as his extensive notes from racetracks across the country, which will provide him with valuable tuning information to prepare for the recently repaved track.

"The racing surface this weekend will be an unknown factor to most of us prior to our arrival, as I understand it has been completely resurfaced following the problems we encountered there last year," said Johnson. "Of course, it will put us in a similar situation to what we encountered in Chicago a few weeks ago, where we did relatively well, so hopefully it will all play into our game plan."

"Basically, we will go back to the set-up we used at the beginning of the season, adjust for the changes in the weather conditions, and take it from there. Depending on how our test session goes in Atlanta next week, I feel confident that we should see a return to form by this GM Performance Parts Grand Am in Columbus."

Facts on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Racing Team entering The Pontiac Excitement Nationals:

WJ Knows His Way in Columbus: This will be Warren's 29th NHRA Pro Stock national event appearance in Columbus, where he has four wins in nine final round appearances, and a 46-23 elimination round record for a .667 win percentage.

Warren's Qualifying Stats in Columbus: In his 28 previous starts at National Trail Raceway, WJ has eight No. 1 qualifying positions, with an outstanding 2.71 average starting position, with only five starts outside the top half (with four of those coming in his first six races in Ohio).

One year ago: WJ qualified fourth with an elapsed time of 6.890 seconds with a top speed of 199.70 mph, but was upset 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

Event schedule: Qualifying: Friday, June 11: Two sessions at 4:00 & 7:00 p.m. Saturday, June 12: Two sessions at 12:00 noon & 2:30 p.m. Eliminations: Sunday, June 13: Pre-race ceremonies and driver's introduction start at 10:00 a.m., followed by the first round of eliminations at 11:00 a.m. TV Schedule: Qualifying Highlights: Saturday, June 12: 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. ESPN Final Eliminations Coverage: Sunday, June 13: 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. (ESPN2) NHRA2Day: Sunday, June 13: 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon (ESPN2) (Note: All TV times are Eastern. Please check your local listings for updated air times, as they are subject, and most likely to change.)

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Bob Glidden