WJ Powers to the Gatornationals Semi-Finals Warren Johnson continued his strong 2005 performance at the third stop of his "School's Out" tour, powering his GM Performance Parts Grand Am to the semi-finals of the 36th annual Mac ...
WJ Powers to the Gatornationals Semi-Finals
Warren Johnson continued his strong 2005 performance at the third stop of his "School's Out" tour, powering his GM Performance Parts Grand Am to the semi-finals of the 36th annual Mac Tools Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL.
Starting from the ninth position, Johnson had one of the quickest race cars on Sunday. In the first round, he used a 6.706-second, 205.05 mph pass to defeat No. 8 qualifier Larry Morgan. This set the stage for a second-round encounter with former crew member and defending POWERade champion Greg Anderson.
Although it was Anderson who captured the No. 1 position in qualifying, Johnson took the measure of his rival on race day with relative ease, gaining the advantage at the starting line and never looking back, pulling away from Anderson with a 6.696-second, 205.99 mph pass, who recorded a 6.702-second effort in the loss.
Standing between Johnson and his 11th career Gatornationals final round was David Connolly, who Johnson had faced in the final round in Pomona earlier this year. Despite facing the warmest temperatures of the weekend, "The Professor" bettered his career marks in top speed and elapsed time with a 6.679-second, 206.70 mph blast.
Unfortunately, it was not enough to overcome his opponent's starting line advantage, with WJ falling eight thousandths of a second shy of advancing. Despite the initial disappointment, Johnson found reasons to be optimistic following his performance in the Sunshine State.
"Overall, we're not going to complain. You have to realize that this car had zero laps on it going in to the first race, and we really haven't had a chance to test since then, so we've basically been doing all our tuning at the race tracks. Obviously, we have a lot of experience to fall back on, but anytime you run a new car, you're going to uncover a few quirks that you have to learn about.
"We've been making incremental changes, and it keeps throwing us a bone. We don't know how fast this thing is going to go -- it may go fast enough to turn my hair white.
"The conditions we had here this weekend gave us the maximum power we will probably encounter all weekend, and with the race track being a little different, we didn't really get a handle on it until the third qualifying session. After that, we kept making small changes on it, and it kept going faster and quicker on virtually every run.
"Our GM Performance Parts Grand Am was pretty sporty today. You can't win them all, and it doesn't help when you have an .081 light, but we did all right up until the semi-finals. Some people will say we took out some fast race cars today, but if you check the record, we were the faster of the two cars on the track each time. Hopefully, we will be able to get it to go significantly faster."