Warren Johnson looks to Accelerate the Learning Curve in Texas As familiarity with their current GM Performance Parts Grand Am increases, so do the team's expectations SUGAR HILL, GA., October 7, 2003 - This weekend's O'Reilly Fall Nationals in...
Warren Johnson looks to Accelerate the Learning Curve in Texas
As familiarity with their current GM Performance Parts Grand Am increases, so do the team's expectations
SUGAR HILL, GA., October 7, 2003 - This weekend's O'Reilly Fall Nationals in Ennis, TX will mark the thirteenth national event at which Warren Johnson will compete with his current GM Performance Parts Grand Am. In the previous twelve races, Johnson has compiled a record that virtually anyone in the Pro Stock pit area would gladly accept, with a No. 1 qualifying performance and track record in St. Louis and two national event wins, including the most recent stop on the NHRA POWERade circuit in Reading, PA.
However, "The Professor" tends to grade himself a little tougher than most, and both he and his crew continue their relentless pursuit of improvement as they arrive in the Lone Star State.
"This GM Performance Parts Grand Am is significantly different in a lot of areas, so we've had a bit of a learning curve," detailed Johnson. "We got off to an extremely good start with it, both in our initial test session in St. Louis, and its first race in Topeka. We got a little overenthusiastic with it in Joliet and unfortunately missed the show, but came back with some pretty strong performances since then.
"The car has never been in question, it's more our ability to adapt to its idiosyncrasies. In the last few races we're really starting to realize its potential. It's up to us to keep moving forward, including this weekend in Dallas."
This weekend's event should provide Johnson with an accurate measure of how his new car is performing. Throughout his career, Johnson has excelled at the Texas Motorplex, with five wins in eleven final round appearances, as well as 11 No.1 qualifying performances. This extensive record of success should prove invaluable as he sets his race car up for arguably the most unique racing surface in drag racing.
"Overall, the Texas Motorplex has proven to be a pretty decent facility, with a personality all its own" stated Johnson. "Although they're able to clean and groom the surface fairly quickly after an oil down, the unique all-concrete surface produces a groove that is extremely narrow in both lanes. If you're able to stay in it from one end to the other, it is extremely fast regardless of track temperature. But, if you are as little as a foot out of where you need to be, you can get yourself in real trouble.
"Certain things come into play more in Dallas than anywhere else. As far as I'm concerned, the driver is normally just a required amount of ballast and not a source of information, but this weekend, you'll get to see why there is a steering wheel in the race car. Just as the crew chief has to make sure the car is set up to go straight, the driver has to keep the car in the groove.
"I feel comfortable racing there. I've had an ill-handling car get out of the groove to the point where I knew if I pulled the parachute it would shoot me across the track, so I let it kiss the wall, gathered it up and still ran a 7.05, which was second quickest for that session. You just have to be aware that you can get yourself in trouble, and a lot of people just don't do that.
"We have extensive data on this track, so we should have good baseline to tune from on Friday. Coming off our win in Reading, I'd say we're cautiously optimistic of adding to our history of success in Dallas."