THE WARREN REPORT: Warren Johnson GM Goodwrench Service Plus News & Notes for the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals, Las Vegas, April 6-8, 2001 W.J. DRAWS FOR FULL HOUSE IN LAS VEGAS Warren Johnson has won at every track on the NHRA national event...
THE WARREN REPORT: Warren Johnson GM Goodwrench Service Plus News & Notes for the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals, Las Vegas, April 6-8, 2001
W.J. DRAWS FOR FULL HOUSE IN LAS VEGAS
Warren Johnson has won at every track on the NHRA national event tour except one - Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The five-time Pro Stock champion is aiming to complete his trophy collection with a victory this weekend at the SummitRacing.com Nationals.
Johnson came up one round short in last season's inaugural event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He lost to Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the final round by three hundredths of a second after his car lost traction and skewed sideways on the fresh track. Now after a year for the racing surface to cure, W.J. expects the track to be conducive to fast times.
"The track has had a year to settle and it has been ground to knock off the high spots," Johnson explained. "I anticipate that we'll have plenty of grip once the cars put down a layer of rubber.
"The conditions in Las Vegas are unique," W.J. continued. "The desert air has low humidity, which is good for speed, but we also have significant elevation, which reduces the available horsepower. It's like playing poker - you win on some cards and lose on others. If you're lucky, it all balances out before you go broke."
Regardless of the outcome of the race, Johnson sees the addition of Las Vegas to the NHRA schedule as a surefire winner. "Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world," noted the Professor. "Every form of motorsports, from Formula 1 to demolition derbies, is ultimately entertainment. If we're going to be in show business, we might as well be on the biggest, brightest stage we can find."
THE JOHNSON JUGGERNAUT
Warren and his son Kurt are on a roll that would be the envy of any gambler. The Johnsons have teamed up to win six straight races, a streak that began last October in Texas. W.J.'s back-to-back victories in Phoenix and Houston have put him on top of the Winston championship standings with a 66-point lead over his son after three of 24 events.
"Last year we were losing races by thousandths of a second; this year we're winning them by thousandths," Warren observed. "We certainly don't have the performance advantage that we've enjoyed in the past. Our recent success is just part of the ebb and flow of racing."
What's made the difference for W.J. in 2001? Winning crucial rounds and a renewed focus on the business of racing. Warren and Kurt have knocked out reigning champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the second round at three straight races, a reversal of last season's form. Without the distractions of the tire and body development programs he pursued last year, Johnson has been able to concentrate fully on racing again.
"We're still experimenting with our new cars every time that we go to the track," Johnson said. "It will probably take another six months before we find the 'sweet spot' and learn exactly what these cars want."
With his new GM Goodwrench Service Plus Grand Am and his determination to win a sixth championship, Johnson has stacked the odds in his favor in Las Vegas.
WARREN JOHNSON'S LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY RECORD <pre> Year Qual. Result 2000 4 Runner-up (to Jeg Coughlin Jr.)