Tireless Work On GM DRCE3 Pushes WJ Into Championship Contention Victory At Houston First For Third Generation Engine LAS VEGAS, April 12, 2005 - Picking the Pro Stock winner at this weekend's SummitRacing.com Nationals at Las Vegas Motor...
Tireless Work On GM DRCE3 Pushes WJ Into Championship Contention
Victory At Houston First For Third Generation Engine
LAS VEGAS, April 12, 2005 - Picking the Pro Stock winner at this weekend's SummitRacing.com Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be about as easy as drawing a royal flush at one of the many casinos located throughout the legendary gaming capital. But with four different winners at the season's first four events, and some polished GM Racing veterans ready to mix it up with some new fresh faces, the race for the 2005 POWERade championship is shaping up to be quite a battle.
Pro Stock veteran Warren Johnson claimed his 93rd career victory at last Sunday's O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park. Johnson drove the GM Performance Parts Pontiac past fellow Pontiac driver Jason Line in the title heat with an elapsed time of 6.714 seconds and 205.01 mph. At 61 years and nine months, Johnson became the oldest NHRA event winner, surpassing Eddie Hill's 1996 mark when he was 60 years old.
Johnson's win at Houston was also the first in competition for the GM DRCE3 powerplant, which the six-time champion (1992-93, 1995, 1998-99, 2001) has been working diligently on since early last season. Johnson's inventive work with General Motors in the early '80s toward the development of the DRCE (Drag Racing Competition Engine) is still the benchmark in Pro Stock, and even though he and son Kurt are the only two current Pro Stock competitors using the newest version of the GM Pro Stock powerplant, the inherent potential of DRCE3 promises to benefit racers in the category for years to come.
"We hope this is just the tip of the iceberg," said Johnson. "We only have three of these DRCE3 engines in our inventory at the moment, and each one seems to want to run faster. Given the fact that we are relatively competitive right now, and that we're fairly confident of being able to pick up the pace, I look at this year as being potentially as good as any of those in which I won the championship."
Johnson, who posted his 131st career No. 1 qualifying position for this event, also won his 46th career national event from the lead starting spot and advanced to his 145th career final round. The Houston event promises to be a nice springboard for "The Professor" who has never won at "The Strip" but enters this event in first place in the Pro Stock standings.
"I guess you can't do much better that we did this weekend," stated Johnson. "Especially after last year, which we consider an anomaly, I have to give my GM Performance Parts team credit for not giving up. This team knows it can still win, and never let anything that's happened deter them. That's probably the biggest thing about this win. It was a total team effort. I have two great guys that work at the race track, and people back at our shop in Sugar Hill that are really dedicated to what they do. That all results in my having a better race car to drive, giving us a better potential to win. I certainly can't do it all myself.
"We still have a lot of work to do, and there are nine or so cars in this division that are capable of winning. So, for now, we're going to enjoy this win, while at the same time start getting ready for Las Vegas. We still have a lot of racing left."
GM Racing Stats & Facts
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Warren Johnson's victory at Houston was the 146th all time win for Pontiac in NHRA Pro Stock competition.
Johnson enters the Las Vegas event in first place in the Pro Stock standings, the first time the six-time champion and driver of the GM Performance Parts Pontiac has been in the points lead since winning the 2003 Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. The last time Johnson won back-to-back events was in June of 2001 when he captured victories at Columbus (Ohio) and St. Louis.
Greg Anderson will enter the SummitRacing.com Nationals in Las Vegas with the longest qualifying streak in Pro Stock at 51 consecutive events. Larry Morgan is second on the list with 37 consecutive races and Anderson teammate Jason Line is third with 27 (Pontiac).
Anderson's Pontiac has visited the winner's circle in each of the series' last four races at LVMS beginning with the spring race in 2003. Other current drivers in GM-branded Pro Stock cars who have previously won at Las Vegas include Mark Pawuk at the fall event in 2001 and Ron Krisher at the spring race in 2002.
There are seven drivers competing in GM-branded cars in the top 10 of the NHRA Pro Stock standings. Warren Johnson (Pontiac) leads with 341 points, Dave Connolly (Chevrolet) is in second place with 315 points, Jason Line (Pontiac) is third with 294 points and Greg Anderson (Pontiac) is fifth with 239 points. Jim Yates (Pontiac) is in sixth place, Ron Krisher (Chevrolet) is seventh and Kurt Johnson (Chevrolet) is tenth.
Pontiac driver Jason Line holds the Pro Stock track record at LVMS. Line established a mark of 6.775 seconds during last October's ACDelco Nationals. Greg Anderson's Pontiac holds the top speed record set at 203.09 mph also during last October's race.
Just like in 2004, the Funny Car category has also shown a remarkable amount of parity this season with four different winners in the first four races including Chevy Monte Carlo driver Tommy Johnson Jr. (Pomona).
Del Worsham's Chevy Monte Carlo holds the LVMS track top speed in Funny Car at 328.22 mph set during last October's ACDelco Nationals.
Four Chevy Monte Carlo drivers occupy a spot in the top 10 of the Funny Car standings. Tommy Johnson Jr. is in fourth place (231) just 72 points behind first-place John Force. Cruz Pedregon is in fifth place (230), Del Worsham is seventh (215) and Bob Gilbertson is ninth (207).
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).