"When you look at the grand scheme of things, racing pales to insignificance alongside the events of September 11," said a pensive Warren Johnson as he made final preparations for this weekend's AutoZone Nationals in Memphis, Tenn. "Given what...
"When you look at the grand scheme of things, racing pales to insignificance alongside the events of September 11," said a pensive Warren Johnson as he made final preparations for this weekend's AutoZone Nationals in Memphis, Tenn. "Given what America has to offer, every racer and fan knows that the needs of our country take precedence. Without the freedom and opportunities that we enjoy, racing would not exist."
With the postponement of the Keystone Nationals until Oct. 5-7 in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks, Johnson and his GM Goodwrench Service Plus crew have been working quietly to prepare for the final six events of the season. Warren has had much to think about, including the direction that his racing program will take in 2002.
"We're building up our inventory of parts and pieces while we try to figure out the best approach for next year," said Johnson. "I've got to make a decision whether to utilize existing castings or take a chance on unproven new components.
"In the short term, I don't foresee any major horsepower gains," he revealed. "To be successful in the next six races, we have to apply the power we've already got to the ground more effectively. That is our primary goal."
Memphis Motorsports Park was a mineshaft last year, but W.J. does not expect the same record-setting conditions.
"Last year was really an anomaly with track and atmospheric conditions that were totally unexpected," Johnson noted. "I anticipate much more normal conditions this time, probably very similar to the conditions we saw in St. Louis last June."
Johnson has found success frequently in Memphis, scoring four wins in his 13 starts at the AutoZone Nationals. In his most recent victory in 1998, he defeated his son Kurt in the final round.
Johnson's GM Goodwrench Service Plus team has tested extensively at Atlanta Dragway in a dress rehearsal for the upcoming events. The elapsed times in Atlanta were quick enough to bring a smile to W.J.'s stern visage.
"We tested with one of the oldest, weakest engines in our shop and still ran 1.02-second 60-foot times," he reported. "We've been collecting information on this chassis since we first raced it in June, and it's given us a direction to follow even in cool conditions. We'll take delivery of our new 'intermediate' chassis in Memphis, and we already have an instrumented bend-and-twist test scheduled with Clemson University to document the effects of the design changes we have made.
"I'm eager to start testing the new chassis," Warren added. "I see that as giving us a head start for next year." <pre> WARREN JOHNSON'S AUTOZONE NATIONALS RECORD: Year Qual. Result 1988 2 First Round 1989 2 Runner-up (to Glidden) 1990 5 Second Round 1991 3 Winner (over Alderman) 1992 3 Winner (over Geoffrion) 1993 2 Second Round 1994 2 Semifinal 1995 2 First Round 1996 5 Winner (over Yates) 1997 4 First Round 1998 1 Winner (over K. Johnson) 1999 1 First Round 2000 11 Second Round