Warren Johnson Starts 2005 with Runner-Up Finish at Winternationals GM Performance Parts driver uses two hole-shot wins to reach Pomona final Pomona, CA, February 13, 2005 - Warren Johnson opened his "School's Out" tour in impressive fashion,...
Warren Johnson Starts 2005 with Runner-Up Finish at Winternationals
GM Performance Parts driver uses two hole-shot wins to reach Pomona final
Pomona, CA, February 13, 2005 - Warren Johnson opened his "School's Out" tour in impressive fashion, powering to a runner-up finish at Sunday's final eliminations of the Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Pomona, CA.
After qualifying sixth, the GM Performance Parts Grand Am pilot used a combination of a fast race car and excellent driving to reach the 144th final round of his illustrious career, a performance made even more impressive by the fact that he was racing a car that had not made a full power pass before arriving at Pomona Raceway.
"We came here with a car with no full passes on it, and two engine combinations with zero runs on them as well," explained Johnson. "Therefore, I believe getting both Kurt's and my cars to the semi-finals and the GM Performance Parts Grand Am to the final paints a pretty rosy picture of the road ahead for our team."
After opening with a defeat of Ben Watson, Johnson squared off against long-time rival and friend Larry Morgan in the second round. Despite racing in the less-preferred right lane, Johnson grabbed the advantage at the start and never looked back, using a 6.736-second, 204.94 mph run to score the hole-shot win over Morgan's quicker, but losing 6.733-second pass.
Standing between Johnson and his third consecutive Winternationals final was a familiar opponent, his son Kurt, who in the earlier rounds had reset the Pomona Raceway elapsed time track record with a stout 6.692-second pass recorded in a second-round defeat of Greg Anderson. Using a lightning-quick .008 reaction time, "The Professor" had a four hundredths of a second lead leaving the starting line, with his 6.734-second pass holding off his son's 6.706-second charge for his second consecutive hole-shot win.
"When you're behind the eight ball you have to go for the throat," stated Johnson. "I was just fortunate enough not to red light against Kurt. I've had a few of those (hole-shot wins) over the years, and if you recall, I won the Winternationals two years ago in a similar fashion."
This set the stage for a final round encounter with third-year driver David Connolly. Facing yet another apparent performance disadvantage and racing without the luxury of lane choice, Johnson knew he would need a strong start and a near-perfect run in order to score his sixth career win at the traditional POWERade Drag Racing season-opener.
The run started according to plan, with WJ gaining a slight advantage at the starting line. However, his race car shot out of the groove soon after launching, slowing his progress and allowing his opponent to edge him at the finish line. Despite the initial disappointment, Johnson realized that it had been a productive weekend for the veteran team.
"Kurt's engine is slightly different than mine, with each taking a particular approach," said Johnson. "Since he had run so well, we decided to use his headers and carburetors for the final to see what effect it would have on my engine. That was the only change we made.
"I guess I'm still not completely used to this car, as I'm sitting over to the left about an inch and a quarter further, and I was apparently pointing to the left at the starting line. Basically the car went that way and got out of the groove. It's just one of those things. I'm not sure we would have had enough steam to beat him at this point in time. However, given these initial results with relatively untested equipment, give us time, and this GM Performance Parts Team will give them something to think about."