Las Vegas: GM Racing Friday summary

Warren Johnson's Pontiac Leads First Day Qualifying At Las Vegas Motor Speedway Six-Time NHRA Champion Continues To Build On Recent Houston Victory LAS VEGAS, April 15, 2005 - Continuing to build on his victory just five days ago in Houston, GM...

Warren Johnson's Pontiac Leads First Day Qualifying At Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Six-Time NHRA Champion Continues To Build On Recent Houston Victory

LAS VEGAS, April 15, 2005 - Continuing to build on his victory just five days ago in Houston, GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver Warren Johnson grabbed the No. 1 qualifying spot after two rounds of Pro Stock time trials at the SummitRacing.com Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Johnson's GM DRCE3-powered Pontiac ran the best time in both rounds today, and took the provisional pole with a run of 6.824 seconds at 201.46 mph.

"Given the weather conditions, that was about a good of a run as we could produce out there," said Johnson. "We don't have any experience with this particular engine combination under these dry, single-digit humidity conditions. You can get these naturally aspirated gas burners to detonate awfully easily, and as fragile as the parts are in these Pro Stock engines right now we just elected not to go there. If we had more track time with this configuration then we probably could've picked it up a little bit more, but not that significantly.

Although Johnson has never won a national event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he has been runner-up here twice. If he can hold onto the lead position after two more sessions on Saturday it would mark the second straight race that the GM Performance Pontiac driver has been the No. 1 qualifier, and the 132nd pole position for the six-time Pro Stock champion.

"Before the Houston race, we put five dyno pulls on this engine at the shop," said Johnson. "We threw it on the trailer when it was still steaming and elected to try it on Saturday afternoon there because we felt we wouldn't be bumped from No. 1. When it produced the 6.69 we felt that we might be onto something, so when we left Houston, we left it exactly like it was. We didn't change the tune-up, we didn't re-jet it for the higher altitude and we didn't change the timing for the thinner air. I feel that there's still some power and performance left in this engine, but we don't want to go there and potentially hurt this powerplant at this point in time because we don't have a replacement for it yet.

"This engine configuration has slightly different components, but the rpm range has gone up so high that we're running it well over 10,000 on the gear changes and at the finish line. Consequently, at that rpm, parts are a little more fragile and what-not, so we don't know how big the tune-up window is for this particular engine at this time. Once we establish that, maybe we'll pick up a little performance, maybe we won't. We don't know that because we haven't strayed outside our tune-up on it yet. We keep putting in new plugs after every round trying to get a read there along with the O2 sensors, just seeing how we can get everything as close as we can from cylinder to cylinder, and then in time we'll try some massive changes when we test."

Ron Krisher has the quickest Chevrolet in the Pro Stock field tonight. The Ohio native will enter the last day of time trials in the No. 3 spot with a 6.849 e.t. at 201.22 mph.

"We ran out of tire a little bit there at the end," said Krisher. "The G-meter feel off and so did all the valve springs, but we can fix that before tomorrow. Since we're in the right lane tomorrow, we can get more speed out of the Valvoline Chevrolet. The car was lazy in first gear but then it came on. Being third tonight is a nice spot to be in. We have a bigger motor back in the shop we'll use soon, and this one we have now isn't bad. No one's really snowing us on speed anyhow, we're about two hundredths off there.

"We have a lot of power, and debuting our new Cobalt in two weeks will put the icing on the cake. I mean, we have a three-year-old car and what we've seen with the new Cobalt, it's going to be fast. The only problem with a new car though is that you'll have to figure out the idiosyncrasies from track to track, but it's going to be a fast car."

Qualifying coverage of the SummitRacing.com Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, April 16, beginning at 10 p.m. (ET) A three-hour broadcast of final eliminations can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, April 17, beginning at 7 p.m. (ET).

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Ron Krisher