POMONA, Calif. - Warren Johnson kicked off his Silver Anniversary Season and his defense of his Pro Stock championship with a surprising runner-up finish at the NHRA AutoZone Winternationals. In a repeat of last year's season finale at Pomona ...
POMONA, Calif. - Warren Johnson kicked off his Silver Anniversary Season and his defense of his Pro Stock championship with a surprising runner-up finish at the NHRA AutoZone Winternationals. In a repeat of last year's season finale at Pomona Raceway, Johnson lost to Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the final round, 6.894/199.17 to 6.953/197.65.
Johnson's prospects for a final-round appearance were far from promising at the start of the day. He qualified 12th in the 16-car field at 6.938/198.17, his poorest qualifying performance since the 1989 NorthStar Nationals. W.J. was running experimental Hoosier tires instead of proven Goodyear rubber. Johnson also had a new crew working on his GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac.
"The outlook at the beginning of the day wasn't very favorable, but we were fortunate enough to go the final," said Warren. "When you look at the big picture, we're actually 20 points ahead of where we were at this point last year. We know that this Hoosier tire program is going to come along. I think after two or three races, we'll be in excellent shape. Our new crew is certainly capable."
Johnson upset No. 5 qualifier Bruce Allen on a holeshot in the first round, outran highly regarded Richie Stevens in the second round, and defeated George Marnell in the semi-finals.
W.J.'s streak of 29 consecutive top speeds was snapped by Tom Martino, the only Pro Stock driver who topped 200 mph this weekend. "I think we have some electrical glitch because we know that the Hoosier tires don't produce the same speeds as the Goodyears, but we're off more than we should be," Warren reported.
Johnson will test extensively before the CSK Nationals in Phoenix on February 24-27. "We completely reworked the white car we ran last year, and I feel it will be superior to the car I used today," Warren predicted. "We have plenty of work to do in the next three weeks!"
WARREN JOHNSON RACE RESULTS:
Qualifying: Warren Johnson qualified No. 12 at 6.938/198.17 mph
First Round: Warren Johnson (6.952/197.48) defeated Bruce Allen (6.950/197.97)
Second Round: Warren Johnson (6.959/197.28) defeated Richie Stevens (6.979/197.02)
Semi-Final: Warren Johnson (6.940/197.62) defeated George Marnell (6.993/198.03)
Final Round: Jeg Coughlin, Jr. (6.894/199.17) defeated Warren Johnson (6.953/197.65)
Low ET: Jim Yates, 6.878 seconds (event record) Top Speed: Tom Martino, 200.14 mph
POINTS RACE: (After 1 of 23 events) Driver Wins Points 1. Jeg Coughlin, Jr. 1 117 2. Warren Johnson 0 92 3. Tom Martino 0 76 4. George Marnell 0 71 5. Kurt Johnson 0 53
NEXT RACE: Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Nationals, February 24-27, Phoenix, Ariz. TV: Speedvision - check local listings.