WJ's Short Week Makes for Long Hours GM Performance Parts Grand Am driver looks to return to Route 66 Raceway winner's circle SUGAR HILL, GA., September 24, 2003 - The recent rash of rainouts has produced a historic stretch for the NHRA's...
WJ's Short Week Makes for Long Hours
GM Performance Parts Grand Am driver looks to return to Route 66 Raceway winner's circle
SUGAR HILL, GA., September 24, 2003 - The recent rash of rainouts has produced a historic stretch for the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series, as the straight-liners will now be competing on seven consecutive weekends. This hectic schedule was compressed even further when heavy rains in the Memphis area postponed final eliminations until Monday, giving teams only three days in which to service their equipment and drive to Joliet, IL for this weekend's Carquest Auto Parts Nationals.
Undaunted, GM Performance Parts driver Warren Johnson simply drove back to his shop in Sugar Hill, GA, and immediately got to work.
"I drove back from Memphis on Monday night, arriving at the shop around 11:30," detailed Johnson. "When the transporter arrived shortly thereafter, I tore our race engine down and did some work on the heads, leaving the shop around 4:30. After a few hours sleep, I was at Atlanta Dragway doing some tire testing for Goodyear On Tuesday. It all comes down to doing what it takes to succeed.
"With the competition as tight as it is in Pro Stock, our GM Performance Parts Grand Am is in a constant state of flux. Because these machines are so finely tuned, we are looking to pick up thousandths of a second, and when we work on one area, it often opens others for improvement. That is why my days have 36 hours in them, and my weeks have nine days. Doesn't everyone's?"
This weekend, the Professor returns to a track with which he has had a love/hate relationship. In eight previous appearances at Route 66 Raceway, Johnson has advanced to the championship round three times, reaching the winner's circle twice (1999 & 2001). However, he has also three first-round exits in Joliet, as well as the very atypical DNQ earlier this year, a result caused by the team's unfamiliarity with a new and radically different race car. Therefore, despite the short week, Johnson arrives in Illinois, confident, prepared and determined to post his third win at this state-of-the-art facility.
"The Joliet race earlier this year was only our second with this particular car," explained Johnson. "Prior to the race, we had tested in Topeka and St. Louis, but those tracks had two completely different tuning scenarios. It was just a case of not having a handle on the car, and even then we were still close. All it would have taken was a simple change in the gear ratio to put us right at the top, but as always, hindsight is 20/20.
"The track at Route 66 Raceway is just good enough that, given the right conditions, we could possibly see record performances this weekend if you're in the left hand lane. The right side still has enough bumps that will slow the car down. But whatever we encounter, it's up to us to maximize our performance. If we can set a record, so be it.
"My goal for these last five races is quite simple. I want to win them all. I started the season with that intention, and got off to a pretty good start in Pomona, but then the plan went awry. However, without sounding arrogant, looking at the tracks and the atmospheric conditions we should be facing for the remainder of the season, I believe the GM Performance Parts Grand Am is fully capable of running the table."