WJ Targets His Own Sweet 16 in Gainesville GM Performance Parts crew aims for 10th win at ACDelco Gatornationals Sugar Hill, Ga., March 14, 2007 -- All across the country, college basketball enthusiasts are frantically trying to fill out their...
WJ Targets His Own Sweet 16 in Gainesville
GM Performance Parts crew aims for 10th win at ACDelco Gatornationals
Sugar Hill, Ga., March 14, 2007 -- All across the country, college basketball enthusiasts are frantically trying to fill out their NCAA brackets, doing their best to forecast who among the top 64 teams in the country will emerge from the single-elimination tournament as this year's champion. At the same time, NHRA Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson, who takes little interest as to what happens on the hardwood, will be looking to do some bracket busting of his own as he and his GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team try to take home the title at this weekend's ACDelco Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL.
"Things are coming together nicely heading into the Gatornationals," said Johnson. "After the last race in Phoenix, we finally had a chance to bring our GM Performance Parts GTO back to the East Coast and work on it in our shop. After all, it's been on the other side of the country since January, making it hard to perform anything but minor changes and adjustments, so we took advantage of the last two weeks to really get after it.
"Basically, we addressed issues that had developed since the start of the year, taking it apart and going over it from nose to tail, checking everything carefully. For example, we made a few changes to the linkages to improve the clutch operation, trying to make it more ergonomically correct, which should help us get off the line. We're going to test before heading down to Gainesville to make sure everything works the way we want it to, but I believe we should be in pretty good shape this weekend."
As the site of the first major drag race of the year on the East Coast, Gainesville Raceway has not only seen the sport evolve over the past four decades, it has also delivered many of the most dramatic moments in quarter-mile history. Consequently, this race traditionally draws one of the biggest fields of the year, with racers and fans coming from all over the world to take part in the "Gators". With nine wins in ten final round appearances, this venerable speedplant has become one of "The Professor's" classrooms.
"In terms of race wins, I have done better percentage-wise at Gainesville Raceway than any other track," stated Johnson. "Historically, we have been more aggressive than everyone else, and I believe it is a case of the track coming to our set-up as opposed to our adapting to the conditions. It offers the combination of favorable atmospheric conditions and a decent racing surface, resulting in some very fast fields, which over the years has been our strong suit.
"Based on what we had coming out of Phoenix, combined with the changes we've made over the last two weeks to pick up its performance even further, I'm confident we're bringing a fast and consistent race car to the ACDelco Gatornationals. It certainly won't be a walk in the park, but if we do our jobs the way we're capable of, taking care of every little detail, I like our GM Performance Parts GTO's chances of having a very good day on Sunday."
Warren Johnson & the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team
By the Numbers -- ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals edition:
4.154 -- WJ's average starting position in Gainesville in 26 starts.
8 -- No. 1 qualifying performances by WJ at Gainesville Raceway, most recently in 2000.
9 -- WJ Gatornationals wins, more than any other NHRA professional competitor, most recently in 2000
10 -- WJ Gainesville Raceway final round appearances
27 -- Career WJ Gainesville Raceway appearances entering the 2007 season
2000 -- Year of WJ's most recent Gatornationals title, when he qualified No. 1 and defeated George Marnell, Jim Yates, Ron Krisher and Troy Coughlin.