DENVER, July 22, 2001 -- Warren Johnson's victory at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals was one for the record book. With his 86th career victory, the 58-year-old driver of the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac became the most successful Pro...
DENVER, July 22, 2001 -- Warren Johnson's victory at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals was one for the record book. With his 86th career victory, the 58-year-old driver of the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac became the most successful Pro Stock driver in drag racing history.
Johnson defeated his son Kurt in the final round at Bandimere Speedway to surpass Bob Glidden's longstanding record of 85 national event titles. W.J. improved his final-round results in 2001 to a perfect 5-0 and increased his lead in the Winston championship to 112 points over Jim Yates.
"I would have to say it's been a pretty good day," said the Professor of Pro Stock. "This is a serious business and everyone on the team has to do their part to be successful."
The victory at the high-altitude track marked another milestone in Johnson's 26-year career. Johnson, a five-time champion, was the first driver to break the 180 mph, 190 mph, and 200 mph barriers. He now leads the Pro Stock performance statistics in every category with the most victories (86), the most final rounds (134), the most No. 1 qualifiers (124), the most Low ETs (124), and the most Top Speeds (189).
"Just as GM Goodwrench Service Plus sets the standard in automotive service, Warren Johnson has set the new standard in performance in the most closely contested category in NHRA drag racing," said John Smith, vice president and general manager of GM Service Parts Operations. "Warren's commitment to excellence on the track reflects the commitment to excellence in service that inspires GM Goodwrench Service Plus dealers and employees."
Johnson qualified in the No. 3 spot at 7.283 seconds with a track-record speed of 189.71 mph. He defeated Mark Pawuk, V. Gaines, and Mike Edwards to advance to the trophy round. Facing his son Kurt for the 14th time in a final, W.J. had the quicker reaction time for the fourth straight round and won with a 7.347 to Kurt's quicker 7.335-second elapsed time.
"The driver was average and the car was consistent," said Johnson with his characteristic candor. "That's what you need to win these things."
Warren has scored all of his NHRA victories with General Motors products -- 54 with Oldsmobile and 32 with Pontiac. He was instrumental in the development of the GM Drag Race Competition Engine and the new generation of GM Grand Am and Cavalier Pro Stock bodies.
"Warren Johnson continues to deliver Pontiac driving excitement by winning more races than any Pro Stock driver in NHRA history," said Pontiac-GMC General Manager Lynn Myers. "We're extremely proud that 'the Professor's' record-breaking 86th career victory was behind the wheel of a Pontiac Grand Am."
With back-to-back races in Seattle and Sonoma, Calif., in the next two weeks, Johnson has little time for celebration. "You're only as good as your last race," he noted. "An hour from now, we'll put our nose to the grindstone, try and figure out how we won this race, and how we're going to attack Seattle, Sonoma and the rest of the season."
W.J. will aim for victory No. 87 next weekend at the Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest NHRA Nationals at Seattle International Raceway -- a track where he notched four of his record 86 victories.