JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 30, 2001 - Warren Johnson took a giant step toward his sixth Winston championship with a victory today in the inaugural NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. Johnson's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac was the dominant machine...
JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 30, 2001 - Warren Johnson took a giant step toward his sixth Winston championship with a victory today in the inaugural NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. Johnson's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac was the dominant machine on race day, running the quickest elapsed time in the second, third, and final rounds of competition.
W.J. notched his second victory at Route 66 Raceway, his sixth of the season and the 87th of his career. Johnson's win, combined with a second-round loss by No. 2-ranked Jim Yates, propelled Warren to a seven-round lead in the championship standings with 16 rounds of racing to go.
"It doesn't get any better than this!" Johnson exclaimed. "We started the weekend with a setup that was much too conservative, while Kurt went for the throat and hit the right tune-up. We basically plugged his setup into my race car, and you saw what happened. I owe this win to the ACDelco crew as well as to my GM Goodwrench team."
Near-perfect track and weather conditions produced career-best performances virtually across the board. With a 6.844-second bump spot, the 16-car Pro Stock field was the quickest in NHRA history. Johnson ran 6.81 in the first round to defeat V. Gaines, 6.81 over Brad Jeter in the second round, and 6.83 over Mike Edwards in the semifinal. He defeated perennial rival Darrell Alderman in the money run, 6.83 to 6.85, and extended his final round record in 2001 to a perfect 6-0. W.J. topped 201 mph in all four rounds of racing.
"We don't test under these conditions very often, and we don't race under them except once or twice a year," Johnson explained. "We were happy with the way it turned out."
Johnson will have little time to savor his victory as the race for the NHRA championship resumes next weekend in Reading, Pa., at the Pep Boys Nationals on Oct. 5-7. <pre> WARREN JOHNSON RACE RESULTS Qualifying: Warren Johnson qualified No. 4 at 6.808/201.82
Eliminations: First Round: Warren Johnson (6.818/201.88) defeated V. Gaines (6.866/200.50) Second Round: Johnson (6.814/201.82) defeated Brad Jeter (6.853/201.22) Semifinal: Johnson (6.837/201.52) defeated Mike Edwards (6.885/200.53) Final Round: Johnson (6.832/201.70) defeated Darrell Alderman (6.852/201.97)
Low ET: Kurt Johnson, 6.801 seconds (national record) Top Speed: Kurt Johnson, 202.70 mph (national record)
POINTS RACE (After 20 of 24 events) Driver Wins Points 1. Warren Johnson 6 1387 2. Jim Yates 1 1252 3. Mike Edwards 1 1137 4. Bruce Allen 1 1070 5. Jeg Coughlin Jr. 3 1065 6. Kurt Johnson 1 1060 Mark Osborne 1 1060
NEXT RACE Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, Oct. 5-7, Reading, Pa. TV: ESPN2, Oct. 7, 8-10 p.m.