Denver: Warren Johnson preview

Warren Johnson Returns to His Roots to Race in Denver GM Performance Parts driver calls on racing experience from 30 years ago to prepare for defense of Mile-High Nationals title SUGAR HILL, GA., July 12, 2004 - After a two-week break, the ...

Warren Johnson Returns to His Roots to Race in Denver

GM Performance Parts driver calls on racing experience from 30 years ago to prepare for defense of Mile-High Nationals title

SUGAR HILL, GA., July 12, 2004 - After a two-week break, the POWERade Drag Racing Series returns to action this weekend with the Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO. Bandimere Speedway, site of this event, is arguably the most picturesque facility on the NHRA tour, nestled in the side of the Rocky Mountains overlooking the Mile-High City. However, with its location at an altitude of over 5,000 feet, the scenery is not the only aspect of this track that is breath taking.

The thin air is of particular concern to the Pro Stock contingent, whose naturally aspirated engines are throttled by the paucity of power-producing oxygen, sending most teams scrambling to find ways to compensate for the lack of power. However, for GM Performance Parts pilot Warren Johnson, these unique conditions simply represent a return to his racing roots.

"Racing in the altitude at Bandimere Speedway presents a challenge unlike any other on the circuit," explained Johnson. "However, being from the Midwest, I grew up racing in divisional events in the 70's at tracks in Pueblo, Continental Divide as well as Denver, so I spent quite a bit of time racing at altitude. I'd say I've made more passes under those conditions than anyone currently in Pro Stock.

"Even though the cars today are radically different from what we raced back then, the experience gave me an understanding of what you have to do to change the car from a normal elevation set-up to what you run in the thin air, which still proves useful as we prepare our GM Performance Parts Grand Am to race this weekend.

"Basically, we're down 250 horsepower from our normal race conditions. That means you have to backtrack the set-up, including the chassis configuration, four-link settings, gear ratios and weight distribution, to what we would have run at other tracks in 1991."

With four wins (including his charge from the ninth position a year ago) in nine final round appearances, "The Professor's" record on the mountain speaks for itself. Therefore, one would assume that his many years of experience and volumes of tuning data would have him in good stead for this weekend's race. Even so, Johnson was still among the many racers participating in last week's pre-race test session, gathering valuable information while consistently ticking off passes under the current track record. The results from those trial runs have the entire team looking forward to defending their title.

"We're pretty enthused by our test session in Denver, as we established a level of competitive consistency," said Johnson. "We made some physical changes to our GM Performance Parts Grand Am, and it ran straighter than it has in a year, with elapsed times in the teens. Naturally, the track will be a little different for the race this weekend, as the NHRA surface preparation is slightly different than what we had for testing, but if it's anywhere close to what it was, we should be in pretty good shape."

WJ's Comments:

On the GM PP team's activities over the last two weeks -

"Since our last race in Madison, we have been trying to get caught up in our developmental work. We've been working on both the DRCE 3s which I use in my car, as well as the DRCE 2s that Kurt has in his ACDelco Cavalier, trying to not only keep them race ready, but to also find some extra horsepower. We don't have a large crew back at the shop when we're racing, so we have to maximize whatever time we get in Sugar Hill."

Facts on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Racing Team entering The Mile-High Nationals Nationals:

* WJ is the Boss at Bandimere: This will be Warren's 21st NHRA Pro Stock national event appearance in Denver, where he has four wins (the most by any active Pro Stock driver) in nine final round appearances, and a 46-16 elimination round record for a .742 win percentage.

* Warren's Qualifying Stats in Colorado: In his twenty previous starts at Bandimere Speedway, WJ has four No. 1 qualifying positions, with an average starting position of 3.7, and only three starts outside the top half.

* One year ago - Defending Champion: WJ qualified ninth with an elapsed time of 7.265 seconds with a top speed of 190.67 mph, and defeated George Marnell, Greg Anderson, Mike Edwards and Jeg Coughlin en route to his third win of the season and 91st of his stellar career.

* Winning Streak: Warren Johnson is looking to extend a streak where has won at least one race a year for 22 consecutive years, which is the longest in NHRA history.

* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 92 national event victories are the most ever in the history of the Pro Stock division and place him second on the all-time NHRA win list. His most recent win came last year at the Lucas Oil Nationals in Reading, PA.

* Career best elapsed time: 6.715 seconds, Englishtown 2003

* Career best top speed: 205.69 mph, Englishtown 2003


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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , George Marnell , Mike Edwards