The Warren Report: Warren Johnson GM Performance Parts News & Notes for the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas, Oct. 25-27. JOHNSON GOES FOR BROKE IN LAS VEGAS One year ago at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Warren Johnson was...
The Warren Report: Warren Johnson GM Performance Parts News & Notes for the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas, Oct. 25-27.
JOHNSON GOES FOR BROKE IN LAS VEGAS
One year ago at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Warren Johnson was racing for the Pro Stock championship. When the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series returns to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the second annual ACDelco-sponsored race, Johnson will have his eyes on another prize: the 2003 title. With this season's crown effectively out of reach, Johnson won't be counting points and calculating championship scenarios. He'll be racing to win - and to get a head start on next year's title run.
"Our engine development program threw us a bone," said the driver of the GM Performance Parts Pontiac, "and now we're gnawing on it."
Long acknowledged as an expert in the art and science of making horsepower, Johnson was instrumental in the design and development of GM's purpose-built Drag Race Competition Engine (DRCE) in 1983. After nearly two decades and dozens of updates, the DRCE - now in its second-generation form - remains the foundation of GM's Pro Stock engine program. Johnson is currently focused on a third-generation version that is slated to debut in 2003.
"Since the U.S. Nationals, when we embarked on our latest engine R&D project, we've raised the horsepower peak by 300 rpm," W.J. revealed. "This significant shift in the power curve requires corresponding changes in the gear ratios and clutch setup to use the power efficiently. If we continue to find improvements, I would say that we'll be quite formidable next year. The performance curve is definitely headed in the right direction."
A holeshot loss in the first round of the preceding race in Dallas prevented Johnson from showing his hand, but he's confident that he'll hold the high cards this weekend in Las Vegas. The track's 2,100-foot elevation and the dry air of the Nevada desert are a perfect fit for W.J.'s combination.
"The relative altitude and lack of humidity in Las Vegas shouldn't affect our performance as adversely as they will some of our competitors," Johnson predicted. "Our approach characteristically doesn't respond as well in ideal conditions, but it also isn't as badly affected when conditions are less than perfect."
Johnson will be racing under the banner of his long-time associate sponsor ACDelco this weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. ACDelco supported Johnson as his primary sponsor in 1988, and he carried the familiar red, white and blue ACDelco colors when he won his first NHRA championship in 1992. Johnson's long-term association with ACDelco is one of the most enduring in motorsports.
"There will be more people around the trailer and we'll have more obligations than usual, but it's never a distraction when ACDelco sponsors an event," Johnson noted. "We know how to manage our time and resources, and there isn't any more pressure to win than there is at any other race. We approach every race with the same intensity."
There is one sure bet in Las Vegas: Warren Johnson will be focused on winning.