Route 66 is America's Mother Road, a ribbon of asphalt that bridges a continent. The historic highway takes on special significance this weekend as the road to the Pro Stock championship takes a turn to Route 66 Raceway, site of the Inaugural...
Route 66 is America's Mother Road, a ribbon of asphalt that bridges a continent. The historic highway takes on special significance this weekend as the road to the Pro Stock championship takes a turn to Route 66 Raceway, site of the Inaugural NHRA Nationals.
Warren Johnson will bring a 76-point lead in the Winston championship standings to Chicagoland's first fall event. With a runner-up finish in Route 66 Raceway's inaugural event in June 1999 and a victory at the stadium-style facility the following year, W.J. knows what to expect on Illinois' fastest quarter-mile.
"If the weather pattern holds, there will be an opportunity to set the national elapsed time record at Route 66," Johnson predicted. "I could definitely use a 20-point bonus for setting the record."
The national standard is currently held by Mark Pawuk at 6.806 seconds, a mark he set in Englishtown, N.J. last May. W.J. has run the Low E.T. at five of the 19 events contested in 2001, while no other driver has turned the quickest time more than twice.
"As long as it doesn't rain, snow, sleet or hail, we should have a shot at it," Johnson joked. "If the predictions of a dry weekend with 60-degree temperatures prove accurate, the record will be in jeopardy.
"The track is the other unknown factor," added the Professor. "We were fortunate that the weather was cool when we raced at Route 66 Raceway in June because the rubber stuck to the track. The racing surface doesn't have an ideal finish, so it could be one of those 'either/or' tracks - either really fast or really tricky. We won't know which it is until the first run."
Johnson goes to Chicago after a lackluster performance in Memphis that saw him lose to Bruce Allen's holeshot in the first round.
"It was just one of those races that didn't feel right," Johnson confided. "One of Richie Stevens' crewmen was rushed to the hospital, Jim Yates had his medical problem, and then we heard that Top Fuel driver Bobby Baldwin had passed away. It was a strange atmosphere. The best news that came out of Memphis is that the doctors diagnosed and treated Jim quickly.
"We did learn that our current Haas chassis seems to have a wide operating window on a cool track," Warren noted. "The starting line temperature was in the l00-degree range, which is just about perfect. The car made a move to the right on race day but we still had the quickest e.t. in the first round of eliminations. With the excellent conditions we anticipate in Chicago and the following week in Pennsylvania, a chassis that can be adapted to cool tracks will be a definite asset." <pre>
WARREN JOHNSON'S ROUTE 66 RACEWAY RECORD: Year Qual. Result 1998 1 Runner-up (to Thomas) 1999 2 Winner (over T. Coughlin) 2000 12 First Round 2001 12 Semifinal