Madison: Warren Johnson pre-race notes

WJ's Wrap Sheet -- Gateway International Raceway Edition 1. WJ's First Madison Race & Win - 1997 Race Car: 1997 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird Performance: WJ Qualified Second, 7.017 seconds, 196.76 mph Defeated...

WJ's Wrap Sheet --

Gateway International Raceway Edition

1. WJ's First Madison Race & Win - 1997

Race Car: 1997 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird

Performance: WJ Qualified Second, 7.017 seconds, 196.76 mph

Defeated Darrell Alderman, Steve Schmidt, Kurt Johnson and Jim Yates

In Warren's Words:

"This was back when we had a big rivalry with Yates, who had teamed up with (Richard) Maskin. We had an on-going verbal battle throughout the season, which I'm sure added a little stimulus to my beating him on a holeshot in the final.

"At that time, Gateway International Raceway was brand new, and the concrete portion of the racetrack, as I remember was a little rough. We were concerned about it, especially with the elevated temperatures during the day, so they ground it immediately after the race, so it was smoother, but the composition of the concrete was such that you still had a rough time getting hold of the racetrack on the starting line."

Notes of the time:

This marked the fourth time in his career that Warren won in his first race at a particular track. (The others were Fremont and Irvine, CA, and Richmond, VA)

This was the 63rd win of WJ's career in his 102nd final round appearance, and fourth of the 1997 season.

WJ defeated archrival Yates on a holeshot in the St. Louis final, using a .029 light and a 7.064-second, 196.16 mph pass to edge Yates' quicker, but losing, 7.049 second, 195.90 mph run.

Warren's margin of victory was .013 seconds, or about 3 feet.

Yates was the No. 1 qualifier with a 6.975-second elapsed time, recorded during Friday's evening session, and was the only run in the six-second range during the weekend.

WJ's 7.028-second elapsed time in the first round was the quickest of the day in eliminations.

Current Dave Connolly crew chief Terry Adams was qualified ninth at 7.048 seconds.

Tom Martino was on the bump at 7.079 seconds.

38 Pro Stock cars attempted to make the inaugural NHRA Sears Craftsman Nationals, with veterans Troy Coughlin, Larry Morgan and Allen Johnson among those missing the field.

The field consisted of Oldsmobile Cutlasses, Pontiac Firebirds, Chevy Camaros, and Dodge Avengers.

Winners in other categories that day included Joe Amato in Top Fuel, who defeated Gary Scelzi in the final and Ron Capps over Cruz Pedregon in Funny Car.

2. WJ's Most Recent Madison Win -- 2001

Race Car: 2001 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am

Performance: WJ Qualified First, 6.865 seconds, 200.65 mph

Defeated John Nobile, Mike Edwards, Brad Jeter and Jim Yates

In Warren's Words:

"We were fortunate to win that race. It was extremely hot once again, and fortunately for all involved, the NHRA eventually switched the event to the nighttime format we have now.

"We won that race with the new double-frame rail car, which we built with the idea of having more control over the wheelspin throughout the course of the run. At that point, almost everyone was making enough power that you could overpower the tires, and we designed this car to combat that."

Notes of the time:

This was the 85th win of WJ's career, which at the time tied him with Bob Glidden for the most by a Pro Stock driver.

This was also Warren's 701st career elimination round win.

WJ set low elapsed time for the race with his 6.865 second time in qualifying and top speed of the event with his 200.74 mph clocking in the final.

This was Warren's second national event with a new race car designed for warm weather. In fact, it arrived at Gateway with only eleven previous passes down the quarter-mile.

34 cars attempted to make the 16-car Pro Stock field, with current IHRA Pro Stock racer John Nobile capturing the final qualifying position with a 6.910-second elapsed time.

Veterans Allen Johnson, Larry Morgan, Darrell Alderman and Richie Stevens were among those not making the cut, as well as former NBA players Tom Hammonds and Larry Nance.

The Pro Stock field was now comprised of Pontiac Grand Ams & Firebirds, Chevy Cavaliers and a Camaro, Olds Cutlasses, Dodge Avengers and R/Ts, and a Ford Mustang.

Winners in the other professional categories included Doug Kalitta over Kenny Bernstein in Top Fuel, Tony Pedregon over Tommy Johnson Jr. in Funny Car, GT Tonglet over Shawn Gann in Pro Stock Bike and Taylor Lastor over current Pro Stock racer Randy Daniels in Pro Stock Truck.

3. WJ's Gateway International Raceway in a Nutshell --

"It's a decent facility, although a little cramped for parking, especially for the sportsman categories who have to park in the middle of the circle track. They've been addressing the racing surface each year, and it's not bad. It's smooth enough that we can get down it -- it just doesn't have any traction when it's extremely hot, making it pretty dicey for everybody."


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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Nobile , Troy Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Kenny Bernstein , Brad Jeter , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Larry Morgan , Shawn Gann , Randy Daniels , Bob Glidden , Tom Hammonds , Tom Martino , Terry Adams , Allen Johnson , Steve Schmidt , GT Tonglet , Dave Connolly , Mike Edwards , Larry Nance , Tommy Johnson Jr.