THE WARREN REPORT: Warren Johnson GM Goodwrench Service Plus News & Notes for the NHRA O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, Dallas, Oct. 19-21, 2001 Johnson Makes Tracks Toward Racing Milestone In Texas In a season that has...
THE WARREN REPORT: Warren Johnson GM Goodwrench Service Plus News & Notes for the NHRA O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, Dallas, Oct. 19-21, 2001
Johnson Makes Tracks Toward Racing Milestone In Texas
In a season that has seen drag racing history made at virtually every event, Warren Johnson can reach another milestone in his storied career this weekend at the NHRA O'Reilly Fall Nationals. If Johnson advances his GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac to the second round of eliminations at the Texas Motorplex, he will become the first Pro Stock driver to compete in 1,000 rounds of racing in NHRA national event competition.
Coming into the 22nd event of the 24-race Winston Drag Racing Series, W.J. has appeared in 998 rounds. He's compiled a 712-286 record since 1971 -- a 71.3 percent winning average. Johnson has faced 117 drivers to date, and has a winning record against all but 11 of them. Johnson's closest rival, Bob Glidden, competed in 818 rounds during his legendary career.
"To put 1,000 rounds into perspective, you have to remember that's only 250 miles of racing," Johnson laughed. "That's a short day for a NASCAR driver. Of course, I don't get any second chances on race day.
"The only way to get to 1,000 rounds is to stay in the sport for the long haul," W.J. noted. "When I chose drag racing as my profession, I made a long-term commitment.
"I've been blessed to be able to race at this level for so many years," he added. "It all begins with quality sponsorship support and a sanctioning body with a consistent program that delivers value for both sponsors and spectators."
The odds favor W.J. this weekend in Dallas. In 18 previous events at the Motorplex, he's won 44 rounds, scoring five victories in 11 final-round appearances. He's qualified in the No. 1 spot 11 times on the all-concrete quarter-mile. The Johnson family has been represented in the last 12 final rounds in Dallas, a streak that began in 1993.
"I expect some spectacular performances in Texas," Johnson predicted. "Perhaps not quite on the same level as the last race in Reading, but certainly faster than Dallas has seen in the past. I've been watching the weather forecast, and it appears we'll have cool temperatures. That's why we spent two days this week testing cold-weather setups. Of course, I expect everyone who ran fast in Reading will be fast at the Motorplex, too."
Johnson's mastery of the Texas Motorplex is a product of his decades of experience on a variety of tracks.
"The only negative factor we have to deal with at the Motorplex is its unusually narrow groove," W.J. explained. "Since the racing surface is entirely concrete, the cars typically don't stray very far from the straight and narrow path. If you do get out of the groove, however, there is very little traction and it's almost impossible to salvage the run."
Johnson wrapped up his fifth Winston championship at the Motorplex in 1999. This year, with a 134-point lead over second-ranked Jim Yates, W.J. cannot mathematically clinch his sixth title -- but the Professor has certainly learned the value of patience in his long run to 1,000 rounds of racing. <pre> WARREN JOHNSON'S TEXAS MOTORPLEX RECORD: Year Qual.Result 1986 2 Runner-up (to Glidden) 1987 2 Second Round 1988 Non-NHRA event 1989 1 Winner (over Morgan) 1990 2 First Round 1991 1 Runner-up (to Morgan) 1992 1 Semi-final 1993 1 Runner-up (to K. Johnson) 1994 1 Runner-up (to Geoffrion) 1995 1 Semi-final 1996 2 First Round 1997 Spring 1 Winner (over Geoffrion) 1997 Fall 8 Runner-up (to Yates) 1998 Spring 1 First Round 1998 Fall 1 Winner (over Yates) 1999 Spring 1 Winner (over Edwards) 1999 Fall 1 Winner (over Yates) 2000 Spring 2 Runner-up (to Gaines) 2000 Fall 3 Second Round