The excitement started early on race day for Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts team at the O'Reilly Fall Nationals in Ennis, TX. During their pre-race preparations on Sunday morning, a mysterious mechanical malfunction developed that...
The excitement started early on race day for Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts team at the O'Reilly Fall Nationals in Ennis, TX. During their pre-race preparations on Sunday morning, a mysterious mechanical malfunction developed that sent them scrambling to first diagnose the problem, and then effect the repair before the start of eliminations.
Reaching the starting line with just moments to spare, Johnson staged against fellow Georgian Gene Wilson. "The Professor" showed the efficacy of his crew's repairs, blasting down the Texas Motorplex quarter-mile in 6.799 seconds with a top speed of 203.71 mph, which turned out to be the quickest and fastest pass of the weekend. Unfortunately, it was not enough for Johnson to overcome his opponent's perfect .000 reaction time and 6.829 second run, which allowed him to just hold off Johnson's charge at the top end.
Although disappointed by the result, Johnson was still pleased with his team's efforts as well as his race car's performance.
"We were actually lucky to make it to the starting line in time. When we started the car this morning, it was running on five cylinders. We replaced the entire ignition system, the pick-up and the spark plug wires, which didn't solve the problem.
"This was obviously a problem that has plagued us for some time, but wasn't apparent enough for us to find it. For example, during my qualifying run on Saturday morning, I lost two cylinders six seconds in, because the rpm pick-up dropped to three quarters.
"This morning, we replaced the timing wheel, which then put it to 52 degrees advance, as opposed to our normal 26. We then replaced the ignition box, and put another pick up and set of wires in it, which finally settled it down, allowing us to pull into the staging lanes with no time to spare. We'll take all the components back to the shop and determine exactly which one failed. It was just one of those things that made for a very hectic morning.
"Although a .044 light isn't bad, I certainly should have had a better light than that. I might have lost focus with the hassle of getting the car running. Our GM Performance Parts Grand Am made a pretty good run, which was actually low e.t. and top speed for the event. It was just a matter of getting rid of the gremlins, which took us an inordinate amount of time at the worst possible moment."