WJ Wins in Denver, Reclaims Points Lead Morrison, CO, July 17, 2005 - Warren Johnson scored a very popular win on Sunday, taking home the Pro Stock title at the NHRA Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO. Starting from the second position, the ...
WJ Wins in Denver, Reclaims Points Lead
Morrison, CO, July 17, 2005 - Warren Johnson scored a very popular win on Sunday, taking home the Pro Stock title at the NHRA Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO. Starting from the second position, the GM Performance Parts pilot eliminated Erica Enders, Ron Krisher and Jim Yates in the early rounds before squaring off against David Connolly in the finals.
In one of the most exciting encounters of the day, both drivers sat idling in the pre-stage beams, with neither willing to stage first. This lengthy "burn down" brought the sellout crowd at Bandimere Speedway to their feet, as they cheered in anticipation of the race that was to follow. Finally, after almost two minutes, "The Professor" nudged his Pontiac forward, with Connolly following shortly thereafter.
However, the race was over before it even began, as the younger driver left the starting line one thousandth of a second early, handing the automatic win to Johnson, who punctuated his winning performance with his quickest run of the day at 7.131 seconds with a top speed of 193.16 mph. This is Johnson's third win of the 2005 season, fifth at Bandimere Speedway and 95th of his stellar career, and allowed him to reclaim the lead in the NHRA POWERade Championship standings.
"I didn't notice anything unusual," joked Johnson in recalling the final round. "They had turned us around so quickly after the semis (due to a rain delay, officials had shortened the time between rounds to approximately 45 minutes, 30 less than normal), so I just staged when I was ready."
"I've been doing this so long that I've learned that certain people get a mindset that they have to stage last. Of course, you can only let them get away with it for so long, so we packed it with ice and overfilled it with fuel. When you sit there that long, the adrenaline starts pumping, and my chances of red-lighting were just as good as his, so not wanting to push it any further, I finally went ahead and staged."
"After all, I felt we had a pretty good package in our GM Performance Parts Pontiac, and I didn't want to throw it away. Although I wasn't able to hear it in the car, I understand the fans were pretty excited, which, after all, is the most important thing."
"When we got to the top end, I made sure to congratulate Dave. He had an excellent day and did a good job of driving. Apparently, they had hurt their motor earlier in the day, and he took up the slack for the team. If you look at his first three rounds, you couldn't find anything better than that. Fortunately, things worked out in our favor in the final."
From his opening 7.151-second, 193.07 mph, Johnson showed that he had the car to win, recording the quickest elapsed time in each of the four rounds. Following Ron Krisher's red-light in the second round, the final step between WJ and his tenth Bandimere final round appearance was long-time rival Jim Yates, who had scored twin hole-shot wins to advance from his 14th starting position. Although Yates was able to gain a slight advantage at the starting line, his 7.223-second run was no match for Johnson's 7.134-second blast setting the stage for his dramatic final round encounter with Connolly.
"This was a total team effort by the GM Performance Parts crew," said a happy Johnson. "The three days we were up here testing certainly played into what we were able to accomplish this weekend. In fact, we could have stayed for a fourth day, but we had to get back to the shop to prepare for this West Coast Swing. We continued to test a few things during qualifying, and found a few things that showed up in the last two rounds, all of which are the result of everyone on the crew maintaining their focus."
"Win or lose, it's a good day anytime you are able to reach the final, but it certainly is much better when you take home the trophy. By advancing to the final, we were able to regain the points lead, and by winning we were able to pad it a little, which, after all, is why we're out here. All in all, it was a very satisfying weekend, and a great start to this three-race stretch."