Las Vegas II: Warren Johnson preview

WJ Has A One-Track Mind Heading Into Las Vegas GM Performance Parts Crew Likes Their Chances on The Strip Sugar Hill, Ga., October 17, 2005 -- In a town where fortunes are often won or lost based on odds, Warren Johnson and his GM ...

WJ Has A One-Track Mind Heading Into Las Vegas
GM Performance Parts Crew Likes Their Chances on The Strip

Sugar Hill, Ga., October 17, 2005 -- In a town where fortunes are often won or lost based on odds, Warren Johnson and his GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team are looking for an even playing field in the form of two matched lanes. Lane choice is an integral part of the sport of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing, and although the sanctioning body works hard to minimize the disparity between the two racing lanes, the slightest difference between the right- and left-hand sides of the track can often determine the winner.

Acknowledging that maintaining parity between the lanes is not an easy chore, entering this weekend's ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals Johnson offered his views on the importance of race track preparation, as well as how his team works to minimize its effects on their performance.

"There's a lot involved in getting two flat surfaces exactly the same," states Johnson. "However, maintaining the equality between the two lanes is something the NHRA addresses on a continuing basis. After all, if someone is able to predict who is going to win the race based on lane selection, we wouldn't want to race, and, more importantly, the fans wouldn't want to watch.

"In reality, it starts with the initial construction of the race track, and continues through the pre-race preparation. You have to determine if the texture of the surface is the same in both lanes, or if it's been ground, was it done uniformly. In addition, we have seen a huge difference in the aggregate from lane to lane on several tracks, which can produce an almost polished surface when you grind it, making it almost impossible to match the two sides.

"As you can see, it's not an easy assignment by any means, with many potential scenarios. Along with everything else, there is always the potential for oil downs, which they've been able to address pretty well as far as the clean up is concerned. It's all about the coefficient of friction, which we call traction.

"From the team's perspective, if there is a perceived difference between the two lanes, it is paramount that you do everything you can to get lane choice and keep it, which starts in qualifying. If you start in the bottom half of the field on a one-lane racetrack, your chances for success are minimized. Therefore, this weekend the GM Performance Parts team will be focused on keeping our GTO at or near the top of the board starting with the first session on Friday afternoon."

There are two aspects of this weekend's event that appeal to "The Professor". First, the straight-liners will be making their second visit of 2005 to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. As one of the top facilities in all of motorsports, The Strip offers the best of everything to both the competitors and fans, minimizing concerns about the racing surface. In addition, the team continues to move forward in their learning process with their race car, gaining knowledge with every pass, allowing them to better adapt to the conditions they will encounter and maximize their performance.

"The racing surface at Las Vegas is actually fairly decent," said Johnson. "As with any of the Bruton Smith-owned facilities, they take extreme caution on preparing the track, so it's usually pretty darn good, holding the rubber well, even under elevated temperatures. Overall, it's pretty smooth. There initially was a bump in the right lane, but it has been addressed, so, unless something has changed over the summer, I don't anticipate any issues arising with the racing surface.

"In addition, with every run we make on this GM Performance Parts GTO, we learn more about making it go quicker and faster. In addition, we have been working on a few projects that we may be able to implement in time for this weekend. All in all, I like our odds in Vegas."

Notes on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team entering the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals:

* WJ to Participate in Autograph session: Warren will be one of the drivers participating in a pre-race autograph session, which will be held from 5:00 -- 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 20 at the NHRA Budweiser Fan Zone, which will be held in the parking lot of the Hard Rock Casino.

* WJ on The Strip: This will be Warren's eleventh appearance at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he has two final round appearances, and a 10-8 elimination round record for a .556 winning percentage.

* Looking to complete the set: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the only track on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing circuit where WJ has yet to reach the winner's circle.

* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 95 national event victories are the most ever in the history of the Pro Stock division and place him second on the all-time NHRA win list. His most recent win came at the 2005 Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO.

* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.679 seconds, Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05

* Career best top speed: 207.50 mph, Englishtown, NJ, 6/19/05

-j2r-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson