Joliet II: Warren Report - Chicago Edition

Johnson primed for repeat victory at Route 66 Raceway. Chicago is Warren Johnson's kind of town. The city with big shoulders has been good to the racer with big horsepower. W.J. has advanced to the final round three times in the six races ...

Johnson primed for repeat victory at Route 66 Raceway.

Chicago is Warren Johnson's kind of town. The city with big shoulders has been good to the racer with big horsepower. W.J. has advanced to the final round three times in the six races contested at Route 66 Raceway, the site of this weekend's Craftsman 75th Anniversary NHRA Nationals. He won last year's inaugural autumn event at the stadium-style supertrack, and he's primed his GM Performance Parts Pontiac with more firepower to defend his title.

Johnson set the performance pace at the preceding event in Memphis, Tenn., where he qualified No. 1 and ran the quickest elapsed time of the event. Warren promises there's more to come from his top-secret engine shop.

"We're exploring a new direction," Johnson said. "We've completed about two-thirds of the program at this point, and the engine's top-end power just keeps climbing. Now we're working on bolstering the bottom and middle of the power curve. If we're successful, I foresee a significant performance gain."

Johnson relishes his return to Route 66 Raceway. He was runner-up to Mike Thomas in the track's inaugural event in 1998. He won in 1999 over Troy Coughlin and defeated Darrell Alderman in last year's fall race. The prospect of cool weather in Chicago has raised Warren's expectations for another successful weekend at Route 66 Raceway.

"If the predictions of 60-degree temperatures prove accurate, the track will be incredibly fast," he promised. "Depending on how well the track held up over the summer, we should have a good racing surface as long as the temperatures are cool. If it's hot, though, the rubber has a tendency to pull up, and then all bets are off."

While Johnson has been relentless in his pursuit of power, the other members of his GM Performance Parts team have worked on repairing body damage sustained by W.J.'s Grand Am when it broke loose inside the transporter en route to Memphis.

"Some of my competitors thought that our impromptu repairs were a ploy to gain an aerodynamic advantage," Johnson laughed. "I volunteered to drop a few tires on anyone's race car if they truly believed that duct tape was a speed secret.

"Of course, I was deeply disappointed that we didn't receive the Best Appearing Car award," Warren added with a wink.

-wjr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Troy Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Warren Johnson