Reading: Warren Johnson preview

Warren Johnson Aims to Maintain his Mastery of Maple Grove The Professor looks to power his GM Performance Parts Grand Am to fourth Reading win SUGAR HILL, GA., September 10, 2003 - The NHRA has been making an annual visit to Maple Grove Raceway...

Warren Johnson Aims to Maintain his Mastery of Maple Grove
The Professor looks to power his GM Performance Parts Grand Am to fourth Reading win

SUGAR HILL, GA., September 10, 2003 - The NHRA has been making an annual visit to Maple Grove Raceway for a national event every year since 1985, and GM Performance Parts Grand Am pilot Warren Johnson has been a participant in each one. During that time, Johnson has accumulated an impressive record, advancing to the championship round eight times in eighteen attempts, with three wins and a stellar .722 elimination round win percentage.

As the POWERade Drag Racing Series prepares to return to the Keystone State for this year's Lucas Oil Nationals, the man known as "The Professor of Pro Stock" took time to reflect on his success at this venerable facility located just outside of Reading, PA.

"Reading has always been a relatively fast track," explained Johnson. "At this time of year, the temperatures are a little cooler, tightening the racing surface, which in turn favors the chassis set-ups that utilize a lot of power.

"Fortunately, over the years, we've been able to take advantage of these conditions, and done relatively well at Maple Grove, and the entire GM Performance Parts team is looking to continue that trend this weekend."

This year, due to the one-week postponement of the event in Indianapolis, this race takes on an added challenge as the midpoint in a grueling period that will see the world's best quarter-milers competing on five straight weekends. Although this task might seem daunting to some, Johnson and his well-schooled crew are prepared to take it all in stride.

"The biggest challenge in racing on consecutive weekends is the difficulty in performing the necessary between-race maintenance," said Johnson. "In this particular instance, our shop in Georgia is centrally located, so even if we were faced with having to perform a major engine repair between races, we would be able to weather the storm. We see this as nothing more than an inconvenience."

With the 2003 season entering its final quarter, the pressure to win increases at each of the remaining events. Buoyed by the combination of a fast race car and a record of success at the Pennsylvania quarter-mile, Johnson looks to add to his class-leading win total.

"Even though it is late in the season, our intensity is just as high as it was at the first race in Pomona," stated Johnson. "We want to leave every race with as many points as we can, and we're prepared as well as can be. However, a little good fortune also helps. There are races you can win even if you stage backwards, while others you can do everything right and still not end up in the winner's circle.

"Reading has always been a great place to race, one we look forward to returning to year after year. It certainly attracts a great spectator crowd, and is perhaps one of the better-attended races on the circuit. As we see it, if we're going to race, we might as well do it in front of a packed house and, while we're at it, our GM Performance Parts Grand Am might as well win."

Facts on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Racing Team entering the Lucas Oil Nationals:

* WJ Reigns at Reading: This will be Warren's 19th NHRA Pro Stock national event appearance at Maple Grove Raceway, where he has three wins in eight final round appearances, with a 39-15 elimination round record for a winning percentage of .722.

* Warren's Qualifying Stats At Maple Grove: In his 18 previous races in Reading, WJ has six No. 1 qualifying efforts, with only two starts outside the top three, and has qualified no lower than eighth . Warren's average starting spot at Maple Grove is 2.33.

* One year ago: WJ qualified fifth with an elapsed time of 6.838 seconds and a top speed of 201.28 mph, and advanced to the semi-finals.

* Winning Streak: Warren Johnson has now won at least two races in 18 of the past 22 years. In addition, his current streak of winning at least one race a year for 22 consecutive years is the longest in NHRA history.

* Reading Winner's Circle is Familiar Johnson Territory: Warren Johnson and his son Kurt combined to win six of the 10 NHRA National events in Maple Grove from 1991-200. WJ took home the trophy in 1991, 1992 & 1995 (and was the runner-up in 1993, 1994 & 2000), while KJ won the title in 1993, 1998 & 2000.

* POWERade Points standings: After the seventeenth of 23 events, WJ stands fourth in the 2003 POWERade points standings with 1044 points, 526 behind leader Greg Anderson, and 90 behind third place Jeg Coughlin Jr.

* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 91 national event victories are the most ever in the history of the Pro Stock division and place him second on the all-time NHRA win list. His most recent win came at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO.

* Career best elapsed time: 6.715 seconds, Englishtown 2003

* Career best top speed: 205.69 mph, Englishtown 2003

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson