Las Vegas: Warren Johnson pre-event notes

WJ's Wrap Sheet -- The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Edition 1. WJ's First Las Vegas Race & Final -- 2000 Race Car: 2000 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird Performance: WJ Qualified Fourth, 7.075 seconds, 196.33 mph Defeated...

WJ's Wrap Sheet -- The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Edition

1. WJ's First Las Vegas Race & Final -- 2000

Race Car: 2000 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird

Performance: WJ Qualified Fourth, 7.075 seconds, 196.33 mph
Defeated Kurt Johnson, Richie Stevens and Troy Coughlin
Lost to Jeg Coughlin

In Warren's Words:

"I came here about 10 years ago when they were doing the original excavating for the site, so I had an idea of the layout, and based on what they had done in redoing Bristol, we knew going in that they were going to do a first-class job. Therefore, I was not at all surprised by the quality of the facility.

"I really don't have a great recollection of the race, other than all the construction that was going on as we pulled into the track. They were laying asphalt, painting and putting in glass just about everywhere you looked, but they had it ready to go for the first qualifying session. Of course, it's never memorable if you don't win. We were obviously competitive, but just didn't get the job done."

Notes of the time:

* This was the 126th final round appearance of WJ's career.

* This marked the ninth time in his career that Warren had advanced to the final round in his first race at a particular track. (The others were Gainesville, FL, Fremont and Irvine, CA, Reading, PA, Dallas and Houston, TX, Madison and Chicago, IL)

* Ron Krisher was the No. 1 qualifier with a 7.048-second elapsed time, with John Fairleigh on the bump at 7.122 seconds.

* In one of the closest races of the day, Warren reached the final by defeating Jeg's brother Troy on a hole-shot in the semi-finals, using a better light and a 7.077-second elapsed time to better Coughlin's 7.072-second pass.

* 32 cars attempted to make the inaugural SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals

* This was the final year for the venerable Pontiac Firebird, which was replaced the next year by the Pontiac Grand Am.

* The field consisted of an Oldsmobile Cutlasses, Pontiac Firebirds, Chevy Camaros, Dodge Avengers and a solitary Ford Mustang.

* Winners in other categories that day included Kenny Bernstein in Top Fuel, who defeated Joe Amato in the final, Jim Epler in Funny Car, who won his first race in seven years, and Angelle Seeling in Pro Stock Bike.

2. WJ's The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a Nutshell --

"The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is what we have come to expect from Bruton Smith and his people. First and foremost, it's fan-friendly. They take a backseat to no one in terms of preparation of the facility or the racing surface.

"The track itself is pretty decent. They had a few issues early on due to the construction. In fact, they were still laying asphalt and applying paint when we pulled in for our race. At that point the surface had a few unforeseen problems with the ground shifting, but they were all addressed. Today, it has one minor bump in it, but it doesn't seriously affect anyone. The only detriment they have is the sand when the winds pick up, which gets on the track and makes it somewhat slippery. Of course, that is not in their control, and if you know what you're doing, you shouldn't have a problem, other than slowing down.

"The air is thinner and drier than what we're used to, and it does affect the tune-up because you can get into the point of some serious detonation every once in a while. Other than that, it is a track we look forward to racing on."

Did You Know?

* The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the only track on the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Schedule where WJ has yet to record a win. He has two final round appearances in 2000 and 2002, but is still looking for his first Vegas "Wally".

-j2r-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Joe Amato , Ron Krisher