Las Vegas: Warren Johnson preview

WJ Looks to Double Up in Las Vegas GM Performance Parts Team Aims for First Vegas Win at SummitRacing,com Nationals Sugar Hill, Ga., April 12, 2005 -- For the first time this season, the 2005 POWERade Drag Racing Series will be competing on...

WJ Looks to Double Up in Las Vegas
GM Performance Parts Team Aims for First Vegas Win at SummitRacing,com Nationals

Sugar Hill, Ga., April 12, 2005 -- For the first time this season, the 2005 POWERade Drag Racing Series will be competing on consecutive weekends, a situation that suits Warren Johnson and his GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team just fine. Coming off his dramatic and dominant win in Houston, Johnson rolls into this weekend's Nationals as the NHRA's Pro Stock points leader, and looks to build on the positive momentum generated by his success in Texas.

"Naturally, it is always easier to come in to a race off a win, and when it happens on consecutive weekends, it makes it even better," detailed Johnson. "The entire team's confidence is boosted by knowing that you were able to do things correctly the weekend before, making it mentally easier to repeat that performance.

"Next, after every event, you analyze your performance and see if there were any areas where you might have been a little lax, make the necessary adjustments and hopefully improve your performance even further for the next race in relation to the rest of the field. When the races come on back-to-back weekends, there's not that much time to second-guess anything, so you leave the positive things alone and concentrate solely on bettering the negative aspects.

"Based on our GM Performance Parts Pontiac's performance in Houston, there's not that much to fix, so I'd say we're in pretty good shape heading into Las Vegas. Some people like to have time to enjoy their victories. We prefer to jump right back in and do it again."

Under normal circumstances, one area of potential concern in this compressed schedule would be the limited number of DRCE III engines currently in the team's arsenal. This revolutionary new powerplant has admittedly been the cornerstone behind "The Professor's" impressive performance in the early part of the season, and, with only three units available between his team and that of his son Kurt, one might worry about the continuing health of the 500 cubic-inch V-8's. However, as the primary force behind the design, Johnson sees little cause for alarm.

"Throughout the development of the DRCE III, I have worked simultaneously on the performance as well as the reliability," stated Johnson. "When you have a design that is as revolutionary as this one, you have to make significant changes in how you attack its construction, and making sure the engine would withstand the strain of competition was a key consideration. Although I would certainly like to have more engines at my disposal, and we're continuously working to create and stockpile as many pieces as we can, it should not be an issue this weekend."

Throughout his career, WJ has scored at least one national event win at 24 different NHRA race tracks, including 19 of the 20 on the 2005 schedule. The lone holdout is The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of this weekend's race. With two final appearances at the Nevada quarter-mile, he has come close, but a trip to the winner's circle has so far eluded him. Although acknowledging that he would like to capture this final piece of the NHRA puzzle, the pragmatic Johnson also admits that it holds no added significance.

"A win is a win, no matter where you accomplish it," explained Johnson. "It pays the same amount of points, so the location is truly insignificant. We go to every race with the same mindset, preparation and enthusiasm, whether we have ten wins there or none. It's just that sometimes things don't work in your favor.

"However, the more times you go to a racetrack, the more knowledge you get, putting you more in tune with that track's peculiarities, and as long as you use the same approach, sooner or later you will succeed. For example, it looked like we would never win in Phoenix, but eventually we did.

"Would I like to win in Las Vegas? Certainly, but we enter every race to win. We will attack this race just as we have the previous four this season. We certainly like our current position, and are not about to give it up without a fight. After all, as we have repeatedly shown, persistence pays off."

Notes on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team entering the Nationals:

* WJ on The Strip: This will be Warren's ninth appearance at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he has two final round appearances, and an 8-7 elimination round record for a .533 winning appearance.

* One year ago: Warren qualified fourth with an elapsed time of 6.864 seconds and a top speed of 201.16 mph, but was upset in the first round

* Doubling Up: Warren will be looking to win consecutive races for the 19th time in his career (including winning three in a row five times and four in a row once), having last done so in 2001, when he won the Columbus, Ohio and Madison, IL races.

* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 93 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 last week's O'Reilly Spring NHRA Nationals in Houston, TX.

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

* Career best top speed: 206.70 mph, Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05


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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson