Millington: Warren Report: Memphis edition

Johnson brings more power to Memphis. Time, tides and the NHRA POWERade championship wait for no man. With five races remaining on the NHRA schedule and a 213-point deficit to leader Jim Yates, Warren Johnson knows that it's time to hit his ...

Johnson brings more power to Memphis.

Time, tides and the NHRA POWERade championship wait for no man. With five races remaining on the NHRA schedule and a 213-point deficit to leader Jim Yates, Warren Johnson knows that it's time to hit his stride.

Johnson has a powerful ally in his quest for a seventh NHRA Pro Stock title: the 500ci GM Drag Race Competition Engine beneath the bulging hood of his GM Performance Parts Pontiac. Another week of intense R&D work has raised the performance level of W.J.'s powerplant - and raised his expectations for another strong performance in this weekend's O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals in Memphis, Tenn.

"We're focusing on our own engine program now instead of other projects, and that effort is starting to bear fruit," said Johnson from his top-secret R&D facility in Sugar Hill, Ga. "We've raised our game for Memphis, and I believe we'll have an even better combination for Chicago in two weeks."

Johnson's Grand Am flexed its muscles at the preceding race in Reading, Pa. Warren was the only Pro Stock driver who ran quick enough to have qualified in two sessions; everyone else made the show in a single session under optimum conditions. W.J.'s semifinal finish at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals was his best showing since the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals in July.

"We've broadened the engine's power curve significantly," Warren revealed. "We've raised the power peak more than 300 rpm and extended the power at high engine speeds without sacrificing performance at lower rpm. We're using some very sophisticated tools to analyze the valvetrain, and we're seeing positive results."

Johnson's experience at Memphis Motorsports Park is another factor in the complex performance equation. He has competed 14 times in NHRA national event competition on the Memphis quarter-mile, posting four victories in five final-round appearances. His most recent win was in 1998 when he defeated Kurt Johnson in the final round. W.J. was the No. 1 qualifier in 1998 and 1999.

"If the weather forecast is accurate, it looks like it will be a typical muggy Memphis," Johnson joked. "That may work to our advantage because our combination tends to run better in hot and humid air. We saw that in Indy when we had the fastest times in the hot qualifying sessions. If that pattern continues, we should be contenders in Memphis."

-wjr-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson