GM Racing Las Vegas Saturday summary

Warren Johnson Claims Second Straight No. 1 Qualifying Position In Pro Stock Marty Ladwig's Chevy Cobalt Leads Pro FWD Field LAS VEGAS, April 16, 2005 - Make it two in a row for GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver Warren Johnson. After running...

Warren Johnson Claims Second Straight No. 1 Qualifying Position In Pro Stock
Marty Ladwig's Chevy Cobalt Leads Pro FWD Field

LAS VEGAS, April 16, 2005 - Make it two in a row for GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver Warren Johnson. After running the quickest e.t. during last night's final round of time trials at 6.824 seconds, the six-time NHRA champion fought off a long list of challengers during today's final two rounds of time trials to claim his second straight Pro Stock pole. It marks the first time since Houston and Bristol (Tenn.) in early 2003 that the "Professor of Pro Stock" has qualified at the top of the ladder at back-to-back meets.

"We tried to avert any potential problems tomorrow by making changes this afternoon feeling that the conditions were going to be quite representative of what we'll be racing under tomorrow," explained Johnson. "That was an ideal time to try it, I didn't think anybody was going to go quicker than the 6.82 that we had gone last night and that was pretty much proved out."

Although it was the 132nd No. 1 qualifying performance of WJ's career (which is the most by any professional driver in NHRA history) it was his first at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Johnson's Pontiac was the quickest car in the first three qualifying sessions of the weekend, and today's hot, desert-like conditions gave him the opportunity to focus on tomorrow's raceday setup.

"We haven't had these conditions yet this year, and since this was a brand new car at Pomona, it gave us the opportunity to try some new things," said Johnson. "We felt we could take a look at something that would help the car early on in the run. We went one way thinking it was something that would probably be in error and it proved to be so. However, if we go the other way, it really doesn't change anything, plus we don't learn anything either.

"I'd say we're pretty satisfied with the our GM Performance Parts Pontiac's overall performance in qualifying. We may not have gotten it exactly right on every run, but we were able to derive something from every pass, giving us the information we need to go forward."

Ron Krisher had the quickest Chevrolet in the 16-car field, qualified in the No. 3 spot with a 6.849 e.t. at 201.22 mph. It marks the best qualifying position for the 57-year-old Warren, Ohio native in 2005, and his best starting spot since the Mile-High Nationals in Denver in July, 2003.

"We're trying to get first gear straightened out, and we needed to change some gear ratios" said Krisher. "We thought we'd love having that other transmission in the car this morning but it didn't do what we wanted it to do. I was early out of first gear and that hurt us a little bit. We were only .013 behind Warren (Johnson) and we could have picked up at least half that with a little better job out of first gear, but you get a rhythm going, the thing slows and it's hard not to grab that gear.

"I think we're in real good shape for tomorrow though. Lane choice will mean a little bit, at least it usually does, although the right lane wasn't that bad today. We have good power and we have a good racecar, and the way we're running sure beats running at the back of the pack on Sunday, or for that matter, not at all."

After starting three of the last four races at Las Vegas qualified in the No. 1 position, Greg Anderson's Summit Racing Pontiac will start Sunday from the No. 5 spot.

"We're struggling with the racetrack right now," said Anderson. "We haven't made what we'd call a real good run yet. We were a little aggressive during the first day, and a little too conservative today so we kind of got things backward with our setup. We tried a different motor in Jason's Pontiac today, but we're primarily concentrating on getting on the same page with that racetrack. So far we haven't done that. It's our first shot on a track this year that's been this hot, we know how to do it and we'll get it right."

Dave Connolly's Bullet Motorsports Chevrolet will enter Sunday's eliminator in the No. 7 position, but the 22-year-old Ohio native had the second quickest lap in the first round today and the quickest lap in the final session.

"This is the best luck we've ever had in Las Vegas," said Connolly. "The first pass was a little tricky but we adapted to the track and Grump (Bill Jenkins) has the motors probably the best they've been all year. That certainly helps this Chevrolet run out the back half of the racetrack. After a year and a half of racing this Chevrolet, we have the four-link figured out pretty well. Hopefully we can adapt that right into the new Cobalt and pick up where we left off on this car."

Mike Edwards is qualified eighth in a Pontiac, Jason Line is 10th in a Pontiac, Greg Stanfield is 12th in a Chevrolet and Jim Yates is 13th in a Pontiac. Yates' Pontiac ran the second quickest e.t. in the final qualifying session.

"We tend to have a good handle on this Pontiac right now when the track gets hot," said Yates. "We seem to struggle though on Friday nights when the track is really good. The first session out yesterday when the track was hot we were one of the top four cars. The good thing is that on Sunday, we'll be racing on a hot race track so we should be all right. We need to do some testing on some different racetrack conditions. We worked on the engine tune-up, the ignition and the carburetors for the last qualifying session because in the first round this morning, the car seemed to be laying over on the top end. We were second quickest in that last round so we may be onto something."

Rickie Smith (Chevrolet), Kurt Johnson (Chevrolet) and Bruce Allen (Pontiac) round out the 14th, 15th and 16th qualifying positions. The final bump was 6.886 seconds, and the 16-car field is separated from top-to-bottom by .062 of a second.

Tim Wilkerson has the quickest Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car in the field with a 4.809 e.t. at 315.49 mph. Tommy Johnson's Skoal Racing Chevy Monte Carlo will start from the No. 6 spot after running 4.813 seconds at 317.87 mph.

"You always want to run No. 1 and be low in every session, but overall the confidence on this team is pretty high," said Johnson. "It's a really tough and tricky racetrack, and we have a decent handle on it, so we were actually going for it in that final qualifying session trying to put a big number out there. It's not surprising we smoked the tires.

"I feel good about tomorrow. It's going to take consistent runs to go down the track. You aren't going to have to run low e.t. either every run and you're not going to have to run low 4.80s every pass. You'll have to get down the racetrack and that will be the key tomorrow; good consistent runs in the top three or four of the class and you'll get to the final round. Then late Sunday afternoon you might have to step on it for a better track. It's going to be a tricky race, maybe a little pedal contest and I don't mind that at all. I kind of like that."

Sport Compact Qualifying Results

Chevy Cobalt took lead qualifying honors in Pro FWD for the first time this season at the Nitto NHRA Sport Compact Nationals (held in conjunction with the Nationals) after Marty Ladwig drove to a 7.770 e.t at 194.69 mph. It also marks the first career pole for Ladwig as a competitor in the Pro FWD category. Ladwig, a two-time NHRA Sport Compact champion (2003-04) was the No. 1 qualifier at this event in HOT ROD in 2003 and won this race last year. Tomorrow the Chevy Cobalt driver will start from the No. 1 qualifying for the 12th time in his career.

"This GM Racing team did an incredible job after the last event to get this Chevy Cobalt ready for this weekend," said Ladwig. "The car was strong during the first two sessions and we're confident about its performance tomorrow. Over the years, the GM Racing team has had a lot of success at this racetrack and we're looking forward to Sunday."

In Pro RWD, Matt Hartford's Summit Racing Chevrolet will start race day from the No. 7 position.

"We got lost the first two sessions," said Hartford. "We had a little electrical issue in round one, we got that taken care of and then we hurt the clutch in round two. We had way too much clutch in it. We shook really bad so we put a little more power in it, and softened up the clutch because we know the car will run fast if we slip it a little bit. But unfortunately we had more power than we thought, and less clutch than we thought so I shut it off four seconds into the run. That's the first run we have anything to tune from because we started from a whole new baseline this weekend. We'll get figured it out for tomorrow."

"The nice thing is that we haven't hurt anything. Everything is still in one piece and the potential is certainly there. The car has enough power to run 6.50s. We just have to get it to lock up at the right level."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Tommy Johnson , Greg Stanfield , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson , Jason Line , Rickie Smith , Dave Connolly , Matt Hartford , Mike Edwards