Memphis: Warren Johnson preview

A Short Week Creates Long Hours for WJ & Crew before Memphis GM Performance Parts Racing team Tests to Gain Info on their GTO Sugar Hill, Ga., August 17, 2005 -- For the eighth time this season, the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series will be...

A Short Week Creates Long Hours for WJ & Crew before Memphis
GM Performance Parts Racing team Tests to Gain Info on their GTO

Sugar Hill, Ga., August 17, 2005 -- For the eighth time this season, the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series will be competing on consecutive weekends, with the first round of qualifying for the O'Reilly Midsouth Nationals in Memphis, TN, coming just five days after the conclusion of last weekend's event in Brainerd, MN. Under the best of circumstances, this abbreviated schedule would give teams just enough time to perform their between-race maintenance and make the 980-mile drive from Minnesota to the Volunteer state.

However, for Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Racing team, the timetable will be even more hectic, as they will spend two days testing in St. Louis prior to heading to the Tennessee track. Having made only ten runs with their new GTO (including the seven made during last week's race), they will look to become more familiar with their new race car's performance characteristics, information that could be very useful as they look to score their fourth win of the season.

"Going into Brainerd, we really didn't have time to do anything more to our GM Performance Parts GTO than make sure it went from Point A to Point B," said Johnson. "That hurt us a little when it got warmer on Sunday, because we had data from qualifying on a cool track that we had to try and adapt for the warmer conditions, without any real knowledge on how it would respond to certain changes. Even so, I think we represented ourselves well.

"Having that race under our belt, we can now start making changes in the chassis, gearing, clutch and suspension, getting more aggressive and seeing how we can improve it even further. Ideally, we'll try to make eight or nine runs on Wednesday and Thursday in St. Louis, trying components and gathering information. By spending two days testing, we hope to accumulate a backlog of data that will allow us to go to Memphis and be able to do a relatively good job of adjusting to the racetrack."

This weekend, the Johnson crew's assignment will be made even tougher by the event being held in the late afternoon or evening, which will cause the racing surface at Memphis Motorsports Park to change throughout qualifying and eliminations. Making the proper adjustments to adapt to the track will be the key to qualifying well and going rounds. Locked in a tight championship battle, the team knows they have little room for error, and are prepared to do whatever is necessary to tame the Tennessee quarter-mile.

"To their credit, the track management in Memphis is constantly working to keep their racetrack in shape," stated Johnson. "However, due to the apparently unstable nature of the ground it was built on, it's constantly moving, and as a result, it's never been very smooth. For example, four years ago, we had possibly the best atmospheric conditions ever for Pro Stock, and still couldn't run that fast.

"However, we're all dealing from the same deck, and it will be up to us to do a better job than our competition at negotiating whatever new bumps may be out there. We just have to make extremely quick work of getting familiar with what this GM Performance GTO needs to run. We know it's in there -- all we have to do is find it and use it."

Notes on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team entering the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals:

* WJ is Solid Gold in Memphis: This will be Warren's 18th NHRA appearance at Memphis Motorsports Park, where he has four wins in five final round appearances, which is tied with John Force for the most among all professional categories. In his 16 previous MMP starts, WJ has complied a 25-11 elimination round record for a .694 win percentage.

* WJ is a Top Shelf Starter in Tennessee: WJ has been the No. 1 qualifier three times in Memphis, with only two starts outside the top half of the field, and a 3.94 average starting position.

* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 95 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 last month at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO.

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

* Career best top speed: 207.50 mph, Englishtown, NJ, 6/19/05


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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , John Force