Dallas Warren & Kurt Johnson preview

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JOHNSON'S TITLE HOPES ON THE LINE AT CHIEF NATIONALS Dallas -- One year ago at the Chief Nationals, Pro Stock drag racer Warren Johnson clinched his third NHRA championship. This time W.J. finds himself in...



Dallas -- One year ago at the Chief Nationals, Pro Stock drag racer Warren Johnson clinched his third NHRA championship. This time W.J. finds himself in the position of being the pursuer rather than the pursued as he prepares for the shootout at the Texas Motorplex on October 10-13.

Trailing points-leader Jim Yates by 226 markers with just two races remaining, Johnson needs a flawless performance from his GM Performance Parts Pontiac to defend his NHRA crown successfully.

"I've been in the position of chasing the championship before," explains W.J., a six-time runner-up in the title race. "I've learned that you have to stay focused on your own program and not worry about what anyone else is doing."

The all-concrete Motorplex is custom-made to Johnson's championship aspirations. "I've been in six finals at the Motorplex and my son Kurt has won there twice," notes the 53-year-old "Professor of Pro Stock." "You could say that track has treated us well."

The Motorplex is one of the few tracks that can handle the prodigious horsepower of Johnson's GM engines. He's been the No. 1 qualifier five straight years at the Chief Nationals. He set the track e.t. and speed records (6.988/198.23 mph) at last year's event, running the only six-second Pro Stock times ever recorded at the Chief Nationals.

"The concrete track surface is extremely smooth," W.J. explains, "and that gives us the maximum tire contact area we need for fast runs."

As the 1996 season winds down, Johnson is making plans for next year. "We're already working on our program for '97," Warren reports, "but at the same time we're trying to win races this year. My team is always building for the future. I'm an optimist: I try to do the best I possibly can, and hope the outcome is what I anticipated."

Fifty-nine times in his career as an NHRA Pro Stock racer, the outcome has been a victory for Warren Johnson. Winning a 60th title is all the incentive that Johnson will need at the Chief Nationals.

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Dallas -- Two out of three isn't bad in anyone's book, but Kurt Johnson thinks he can do better. He'll be aiming for his third win in four years at the NHRA Chief Nationals at the Texas Motorplex on October 10-13.

"The Motorplex is a real good race track for me," comments the 33-year-old driver of the Delco Freedom Battery Firebird. "Maybe I've been lucky, but my car has always run well there. We qualified No. 6 both years that I won, so if I'm sixth again this year we'll be looking good going into eliminations!"

The prospect of running on the Motorplex's all-concrete quarter-mile is also exciting for the driver who recorded the first six-second Pro Stock run in NHRA history. "We expect to go fast in Texas, and possibly run in the sixes," K.J. comments. "It's been two years since I ran 6.98 in New Jersey. Sometimes you get snake-bit when you try too hard. The key to going fast is just to do what you know how to do, and let the e.t. come up on the scoreboard."

With only two races remaining on the NHRA schedule, Johnson is poised to move up in the points standings. "I definitely think we've improved our car and engines," Kurt observes. "A win could move me all the way to third in the standings if the guys in front of me have trouble."

Consistency has proven elusive for the Delco Freedom Battery team in 1996. Victories in Atlanta and Indianapolis have been offset by DNQ's in Memphis and Reading. "My season has had its share of ups and downs," K.J. concedes. "But if someone told me that I could only win two races, I'd still pick winning my hometown race in Atlanta and the U.S. Nationals. I've had a couple of bad races, but at least I haven't hit any guardrails so far this year!

"The truth is that the competition is so close in Pro Stock now that if you don't make a good run in the good qualifying session, you're going to be sitting on the sidelines on Sunday," Johnson declares. "It's happened to everyone except my Dad and Jim Yates this season."

Any athlete will tell you that attitude is everything. With a confident outlook that's bolstered by two previous victories at the Motorplex, Kurt Johnson is hoping to stand tall in the Texas winner's circle.

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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 01-Oct-1996

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson