WJ Works to Turn Up the Wick at His 30th U.S. Nationals GM Performance Parts Racing Team Shoots for Seventh Win at NHRA's Biggest Race Sugar Hill, Ga., August 31, 2005 - Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Racing Team have two primary...
WJ Works to Turn Up the Wick at His 30th U.S. Nationals
GM Performance Parts Racing Team Shoots for Seventh Win at NHRA's Biggest Race
Sugar Hill, Ga., August 31, 2005 - Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Racing Team have two primary objectives entering this weekend's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN. Ironically, achieving their first goal, which is winning the race, will automatically ensure that they hit their second targeted task, which is to gain ground on the two competitors currently ahead of them in the championship standings.
However, with 29 previous races at Indianapolis Raceway Park to his credit, Johnson knows the key to a winning weekend lies not only in doing a better job than your competitors, but also in keeping any miscues to an absolute minimum, with both he and his crew taking every precaution to ensure their GTO is in prime condition when it arrives in the Hoosier state.
"As close as the competition has become in Pro Stock, to succeed you have to play error-free ball," stated Johnson. "For example, at the last race in Memphis, we started by having a bad shock that did not become evident until late in qualifying, which hampered our efforts to secure a position in the top three. This was further compounded in final eliminations by an unusual problem in the transmission which prevented me from shifting into third, all of which combined to cause our demise.
"However, we've taken advantage of the time since that race to ensure that every piece on our GM Performance Parts GTO is in perfect working condition, so I expect us to be back on course at the U.S Nationals. If we have enough time, and the weather allows, we may even try to squeeze in a little testing before heading to Indianapolis."
As the biggest race on the POWERade Drag Racing schedule, the U.S. Nationals has several features which distinguish it from the other stops on the circuit, from five qualifying sessions and final eliminations held on Labor Day to increased purses for the professional competitors. However, the one aspect that most Pro Stock racers will focus on initially will be the first qualifying session on Friday, where conditions may be the best of the weekend. Having made over 200 passes on this legendary quarter-mile in his career in national event competition alone, "The Professor" is well-versed in what it takes to make that crucial first run, as his eight No. 1 qualifying positions will attest.
"I can recall several times where I was the No. 1 qualifier based on that Friday night run," said Johnson. "Historically, IRP has been one of those tracks that can be quite tricky to get down, especially in the earlier years, when the surface was extremely rough. Those conditions usually work in our favor, because one of our strong points has been the ability to negotiate virtually any type of race track. Of course, this year we will have to factor in the variable of our new GM Performance Parts GTO, whose performance envelope we are still learning. Even so, we should be in good shape."
Once the on-track activities begin on Friday afternoon, the special nature of the event will fade into the background for Johnson, as he will focus on capturing his seventh win at "The Big Go", and close back in the title chase. "We're looking to gain points any way we can," declared Johnson. "Whatever it takes, this GM Performance Parts team is ready to do it. Naturally, the best way to do that is to win the race, and that is our intent, not only this weekend, but every time we race.
"Overall, our GTO is shaping up to be a great car. We made a few changes over the last two weeks that should cure a few problems and help smooth it out down track, as well as picking up a little e.t. (elapsed time). On top of that, we keep working on our engines, always trying to find some extra horsepower.
"We certainly realize that this race is the biggest on the schedule, but our preparation will be the same as it is for any of the other twenty-two. Certainly, winning the U.S. Nationals is special because it is such a big race in the world of drag racing, but our primary goal remains winning the championship. Therefore, the most important benefit of making it to the winner's circle in Indy would be that it would put us in a better position in the points. It's a situation we're looking forward to putting ourselves in this weekend."
Notes on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team entering the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals:
* WJ is a U.S. Nationals veteran: This will be Warren's 30th NHRA appearance at Indianapolis Raceway Park, where he has six wins in eight final round appearances, which is the most among active Pro Stock drivers, and a 42-23 elimination round record in his previous 29 Indiana starts.
* WJ is a Strong Starter at IRP: WJ has been the No. 1 qualifier at the U.S. Nationals eight times, has an average starting position of 5 (with only five starts outside the top half of the field).
* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 95 national event victories are the most ever in the history of the Pro Stock division and place him second on the all-time NHRA win list. His most recent win came at this year's Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO.
* One year ago: Warren was the twelfth qualifier with an elapsed time of 6.830 seconds and a top speed of 201.67 mph, and advanced to the quarter-finals.
* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.679 seconds, Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05
* Career best top speed: 207.50 mph, Englishtown, NJ, 6/19/05