DESPITE CLINCHING CHAMPIONSHIP, JOHNSON HUNGRY FOR MORE POMONA, Calif. -- Warren Johnson's incredible Pro Stock season seems to get better and better with each event. Consider his latest earth-shattering performance at the Revell Nationals...
DESPITE CLINCHING CHAMPIONSHIP, JOHNSON HUNGRY FOR MORE
POMONA, Calif. -- Warren Johnson's incredible Pro Stock season seems to get better and better with each event.
Consider his latest earth-shattering performance at the Revell Nationals in Dallas.
Johnson, who has already clinched a fourth Winston championship, put on a winning display at the Texas Motorplex that included record-setting performances for both elapsed time (6.867 seconds) and speed (201.34 mph).
His GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird just doesn't want to quit.
"Believe it or not, I didn't want to set the elapsed time record because obviously we really didn't need the extra points this season," Johnson said with a grin. "Since the championship is already wrapped up, I'd much rather save the record for next year when we might really need the points. But we figured we'd run the car all the way through just to see what it could do. I guess we sent the competition a statement that we're not ready to retire quite yet."
Johnson plans to send another message at the 34th Winston Finals, Nov. 12-15 at Pomona Raceway, Pomona, Calif. The $1.7 million race is the last of 22 events in the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series for 1998.
Johnson's nine victories and 12 No. 1 qualifying efforts highlight one of the best seasons in the Duluth, Ga. driver's storied career. The national records he earned at Dallas is just his way of placing his signature on a spectacular season.
However, the 55-year-old driver says his success hasn't come without a price.
"We do this for a living, it's not a hobby for us like it is for the majority of the racers out here," Johnson said. "Instead of boating and fishing, they go play with their hot rods on the weekends. We play with race cars seven days a week. We look at trying to win, and that's what's important. Not because we're trying to expand some personal mark, but because that's the way I make my living."
Now that Johnson has secured the championship, the focus turns to second place. Johnson's son, Kurt, is among three drivers battling for second-best. Following the Revell Nationals, three-time winner and leading candidate for NHRA Winston Rookie of the Year Jeg Coughlin held second, 26 points ahead of third place Kurt Johnson. Defending Winston champion Jim Yates is currently fourth, 67 points out of second.
Johnson is extremely confident in his son's ability when the pressure is on.
"He's cool on the starting line and an extremely good driver," Johnson said of his son. "I don't think there's anybody who can rattle him. When he has to bust one on the tree, he can do it better than anyone. He just needs a little more consistent race car. Once he gets that, he'll certainly be deadly out there. No doubt about it, the race for second is going to be interesting. They're all very capable drivers."
Yates, Winston champion in 1996 and 1997, says the three-man race for second will be a lot of fun to watch, but nothing can topple Johnson's season-long dominance.
"You have to give Warren credit," Yates said. "He's on his game. He's running like we were last year, winning everything that gets in his way. He's doing a great job and all we can do is strive to catch up with him."