Warren Johnson Looks to Give the DRCE 3 Win ...
Warren Johnson Looks to Give the DRCE 3 Win #1 in Reading
Recent progress has GM Performance Parts team looking forward to defending their 2003 win
SUGAR HILL, GA., September 15, 2004 - In a sport of racing in straight lines, Warren Johnson is in the process of turning a corner. Throughout most of the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season, Johnson and his GM Performance Parts Racing team have been working to develop a unique combination featuring the third generation General Motors Drag Racing Competition Engine (better known as the DRCE 3).
As the only participant using this new powerplant in competition, it undoubtedly has been a challenge. However, this has only served to strengthen Johnson's resolve. In fact, based on the team's performance at the U.S. Nationals, he believes they are moving ever closer to regaining the winning form for which they are known.
"Our performance in Indianapolis was definitely a step in the right direction, but we won't be happy until we have a minute on the field," joked Johnson. "In all seriousness, I believe we've finally fixed whatever malady was affecting the old hot rod, turning it back into a fast piece we can work with.
"We're certainly pleased by our recent progress, but our goal is to take bigger strides. Therefore, since our return from the U.S. Nationals, we have been working on ways to pick up the pace and put our GM Performance Parts Grand Am in an even better position for this weekend in Reading."
Located in middle of the Pennsylvania farm country, Maple Grove Raceway has been the site of many historic NHRA performances, with Johnson contributing his share of notable moments. In nineteen previous starts, "The Professor" has racked up four wins in nine final round appearances, which is the most by any Pro Stock competitor. Johnson's most recent victory in Reading came one year ago, when he charged from the 14th starting position at the rain-delayed event to capture the 92nd win of his storied career.
"Last year's win came under unusual circumstances, to say the least," recalled Johnson. "First, the race was delayed two weeks by rain, and then, after an abbreviated qualifying session, we started from a less than ideal position in 14th. Finally, the weekend culminated with the Christmas tree running on a generator in the final due to a power outage in the area. It might not have been the ideal situation, but it all worked out in the end, and any win is a good one.
"Maple Grove has been one of those tracks where we have historically done well, although I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps our chassis tuning philosophy is enhanced by the track conditions we encounter there, or maybe we subconsciously see something and attack it.
"It could also be that the Reading race comes later in the year, when the temperatures are a little cooler, and the track is a little better than what we encounter during the summer, which tends to favor our aggressive approach to tuning the race car. It's hard to pinpoint the exact reason, but in any case, I'm not about to fight it, and it is a trend that I hope to continue this weekend.
"Although I could use about another month of development time, we're certainly looking forward to getting back on the track. Having finally gotten a handle on our GM Performance Parts Grand Am, we will now go back through our notes from the early part of the year to get an idea of what set-up we can start with at Maple Grove and work from there. With the combination of a fast race car and a friendly race track, we should be in great shape to back up our win from one year ago."