30TH ANNUAL MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS WARREN JOHNSON GM GOODWRENCH SERVICE PLUS PONTIAC FIREBIRD PRO STOCK WINNER'S INTERVIEW GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 21, 1999) - "The car felt soft all the way down in the semi-final round so we made a drastic...
30TH ANNUAL MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS
WARREN JOHNSON GM GOODWRENCH SERVICE PLUS PONTIAC FIREBIRD PRO STOCK WINNER'S INTERVIEW
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 21, 1999) - "The car felt soft all the way down in the semi-final round so we made a drastic chassis change on the GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird to try and alleviate that 'right turn' problem we had in the previous rounds. It fixed it somewhat, but as drastic as the change was that we made, it should have had a more pronounced effect on it."
"We're going to have to take it back to the shop, scale it and find out if there's something wrong - a broken bracket, or a shock or something. Obviously something is wrong because as soon as I left the starting line I was fighting it all the way done the race track."
You scored the most points you can get at a national event. Does this mean that you're starting to find your groove? "I wouldn't say that I'm in the groove but at least I know where the groove is."
How did it feel racing Kurt (Johnson) in the final? "He went for it as hard as I did. I actually left on the kid - by a whole thousandth. It's a win-win situation for Warren Johnson Enterprises because basically I do all of the cylinder heads, intake manifolds and carburetors and Kurt supervises the machining and assembling of the short blocks. And then he does all dyno running and helps out with the tune up on these engines so we both really know what we have for power. I know exactly what the cars are because I pay for them. So it's a situation where both of us knew that whoever let the clutch out first and made the right guesses as far as the setup to get down that particular lane probably would have won. That's because these cars are so equally matched from a horsepower standpoint and we also spend about an equal amount of time in the General Motors aerodynamic lab. So from that standpoint they're equally efficient."
Your final round performance wasn't as good as your performance earlier in the day. Why was that? "Since the second round we've been fighting a problem where it's been taking a right hand turn. We made some pretty drastic changes and it wouldn't respond, so whether we have a shock problem or something structurally wrong with it in the chassis, that's something we won't know until we get back to the shop and scale it. It was not making straight runs down the race track. I was lucky to win against Yates but we got towards the centerline where there was actually no rubber and we were very fortunate to win that round. I still made another right hand turn in the final but it wasn't as substantial. It should have gone straight but we're just going to have to find out what is wrong with the car."
In light of those problems were you surprised about the record-setting run?
"I was really surprised that we set the record on that run because of the fact that it rattled the tires pretty hard on top of low gear, and into second gear and it still made that right-hand turn on us. Looking at all the problems that we had, I actually feel fortunate that I reset the record by a thousandth. If I would have made a straight run this Firebird would have buried it."
"But that's the whole idea isn't it? I'd like to keep making it by a thousandth every time because that's 20 points we get each time we do it and that's like winning a round of eliminations."
Why do you think you have such great success here at Gainesville ? "It's kind of a Jeckyl and Hyde situation for us. This is also the only track where I haven't qualified for two national events ever since I started racing full time. Maybe the wins kind of balanced out the embarrassment of not qualifying out here. This track this time of year probably favors our setup. We're a high horsepower car, and the way we tend to run our program, kind of work together. The wind was a factor today but fortunately it was a tail wind. If it would have been a cross wind I think you would have seen some problems out there. There was some debris on the track because it was blowing directly down the track and it was picking up some dust and so forth. All in all though, it was a pretty decent day."
"When you look at the crowd here at Gainesville this week it appears that they had a record attendance somewhere in the neighborhood of 130,000* people. When you win a race of this magnitude it's not more important point-wise as far as the race goes, but compared to events that are more lightly attended, I think there's more magic in the win. But it doesn't change our incentive to win races and we still take the same approach to winning every race."
* Actual attendance 132,500