WJ Starts Strong, But Gets Shaken Out in Memphis Quarterfinals After qualifying 15th for Sunday's final eliminations of the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals in Memphis, TN, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team knew they had ...
WJ Starts Strong, But Gets Shaken Out in Memphis Quarterfinals
After qualifying 15th for Sunday's final eliminations of the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals in Memphis, TN, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team knew they had their work cut out for them if they were to vie for their fifth win at Memphis Motorsports Park.
Their challenge started in the first round, as they squared off against defending POWERade Pro Stock champion Jason Line without the benefit of lane choice on the tricky Tennessee quarter-mile. Knowing he would need every advantage in order to advance to the second round, The Professor welded his opponent to the starting line. With his stellar .015 reaction time giving him the advantage by over four hundredths of a second, Johnson took full advantage of the opportunity, using a strong 6.657-second, 206.95 mph pass to score the hole shot win, as Line posted a quicker 6.631-second time in the loss.
Johnson's assignment did not get any easier, however, as he would face another former champion in Jeg Coughlin in the second round. Running once again in the dreaded right hand lane, Johnson again left the starting line first. However, any thoughts of advancing were quickly dashed, as his car suffered severe tire shake almost immediately, shooting him sideways and forcing him to shut off, allowing his opponent to drive on for the win. Despite the initial disappointment, Johnson still found some positives to take with him from the weekend.
"Taking into account the weather conditions we experienced in previous Memphis races, this was probably the nicest weekend we've ever had here. Unfortunately, our performance was not quite as noteworthy. We made a decent run in the first round, but there were enough changes made in the preparation of the lanes for the second round for which we simply couldn't compensate, and, as a result, we shook the tires. For example, they used powder for the second round as opposed to spraying the lanes as they did in the first round, which, although it seems small, creating a slightly different surface.
"Although it looked catastrophic from the outside, we didn't miss it by much. We could have been either 100 rpms lower or higher at the launch, and it might have fixed it, or we could have made a slight clutch adjustment to get us through. We had made a few changes to our GM Performance Parts GTO for the final qualifying session which obviously picked up the pace, and we ran pretty well in the first round today, so we're actually leaving here in pretty decent shape. We just need to string together a few more of these round wins to have a really good day."