Las Vegas II: Warren Report

THE WARREN REPORT: Warren Johnson GM Goodwrench Service Plus News & Notes for the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas, Oct. 25-28, 2001 One Run Can Decide Pro Stock Championship In Las Vegas Warren Johnson has done the math, ...

THE WARREN REPORT: Warren Johnson GM Goodwrench Service Plus News & Notes for the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas, Oct. 25-28, 2001

One Run Can Decide Pro Stock Championship In Las Vegas

Warren Johnson has done the math, calculated his chances and computed the odds. The Professor's final answer: The 2001 Pro Stock championship can be settled in a single run on Sunday.

According to W.J.'s calculations, he can wrap up his sixth career NHRA title with a victory in the first round of eliminations at the inaugural ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The championship has come down to a two-man race between the drivers who have won seven of the last nine Pro Stock crowns. Johnson brings a 150-point lead over Jim Yates into the 23rd round of the 24-race Winston Drag Racing Series.

A maximum of 276 points is available in the final two races of the season -- but Johnson discounts the 40 bonus points that are on the table for setting the national elapsed-time record in Las Vegas and Pomona, Calif. The record now stands at 6.750 seconds, a figurative light-year quicker than the 6.93 and 6.82-second track records at Las Vegas and Pomona respectively.

"The probability of anyone setting the national record either in Las Vegas or in Pomona is extremely remote," said Johnson. "In reality, one round win will effectively lock up the championship."

Barring an abduction by aliens, a victory in the first round would give W.J. an eight-round lead with seven rounds remaining. Of course, Johnson must first qualify -- a feat he's managed to accomplish for the last 286 consecutive races. If Johnson equals Yates' performance in Las Vegas, he will mathematically clinch the title, and need not even attend the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals in two weeks to claim the $125,000 championship bonus.

"We're not focusing on the possible scenarios for the points race," Johnson insisted. "Our only objective is to win rounds and win the race."

At 2,000 feet above sea level, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway does not provide the oxygen-laden air that makes a Pro Stock engine sing. With 80-degree temperatures predicted for the weekend, it's a longshot that any records will be set.

"The fact that we are running a fall race for the first time in Las Vegas should provide better atmospheric conditions, but we're still at considerable altitude," Johnson observed. "The track surface is relatively smooth and consistent, so the quality of the racing should be excellent regardless of the absolute performance numbers."

When Johnson won his first NHRA championship in 1992, he carried ACDelco's familiar red, white and blue colors on his Oldsmobile. Now ACDelco has expanded its involvement in NHRA drag racing from team and product sponsorship to title-rights sponsorship of the first autumn race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"Seeing one of our sponsors' names on the marquee doesn't change our perspective," Johnson declared. "We approach every race with the intention of winning. It would be a feather in our cap to win the first ACDelco-sponsored NHRA national event, but the fact is that we put 100 percent effort into every race. If we are fortunate enough to win in Las Vegas, I'm going to talk to ACDelco and GM Service Parts Operations about sponsoring more events next year!"

In his two previous starts at The Strip, Johnson posted a runner-up finish and a first-round loss. He has won at least once at every track on the NHRA tour except Las Vegas and Bristol. With a championship on the line and his sponsor on the banner, Johnson has every incentive to win big in Las Vegas.

WARREN JOHNSON'S LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY RECORD:
Year Qual. Result
2000 4 Runner-up (to Jeg. Coughlin Jr.)
2001 7 First Round

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson