The Professor Tests to Produce Results in Reading WJ & Crew Continue Learning About their GM Performance Parts GTO Sugar Hill, Ga., September 12, 2005 -- Six-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson is known as "The Professor" for ...
The Professor Tests to Produce Results in Reading
WJ & Crew Continue Learning About their GM Performance Parts GTO
Sugar Hill, Ga., September 12, 2005 -- Six-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson is known as "The Professor" for his studious approach to Pro Stock racing. Therefore, it is fitting that as part of their preparations for this weekend's NHRA Toyo Tires Nationals in Reading, PA, Johnson and his crew will hope to test on three separate occasions as they work to determine the performance envelope of their GM Performance Parts GTO.
Less than two days after competing in Indianapolis, the familiar yellow Pontiac with the star-spangled tail, as well as son Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Cobalt, were in the General Motors wind tunnel in Michigan, as the team worked to confirm the sleek new cars' aerodynamic tendencies. After a brief stop at the team's shop in Sugar Hill, GA, they moved on to Atlanta Dragway, making as many productive runs as the untreated surface would allow. Finally, Johnson will hope to complete his pre-race efforts by squeezing one final day of testing.
"We went to the wind tunnel to compare our GM Performance Parts GTO to the Cobalt, and to confirm exactly what kind of car we had aerodynamically," explained Johnson. "After that, we went to Atlanta, hoping to make a few runs, but were limited in what we could do by a total lack of surface preparation. Therefore, we'll try to test on Wednesday in Rockingham, but a lot will depend on the hurricane that's hanging off shore.
"We know what the basic performance characteristics of this car should be, it's just a matter of getting there. We've noticed that all the GTOs tend to leave the line differently than the Grand Ams they replaced, which is what we experienced in the very beginning with our car. Unfortunately, we were thrown off slightly by a shock that was slowly deteriorating, and are finally coming back to grips with what this car needs."
Although the team is early in the learning process with their new race car, they are quite familiar with the racing surface at Maple Grove Raceway, site of this weekend's race. This will mark Johnson's 21st appearance at the venerable Pennsylvania quarter-mile, as he has appeared in every NHRA national event held there. Starting with his runner-up performance in 1985, WJ has been the most prolific Pro Stock driver in the Keystone State, with four wins in nine final round appearances. It is a record of success he looks to continue this weekend.
"At this time of year, the weather in Reading can be a Jekyll vs. Hyde situation," said Johnson. "We have seen new national records set in Pro Stock at Maple Grove when we had absolutely pristine conditions, while we've also been rained out there the last two years. It's just one of those unpredictable situations that you don't know what you have until you get there. Fortunately, the forecast is calling for good weather this weekend.
"They resurfaced this track a few years ago because they had a serious problem with a bump at about 800-900 feet, after which the surface has been pretty good. The track will certainly hold record performances, the limiting factor will be the atmospheric conditions.
"But whatever the circumstances, this GM Performance Parts team just has to race and do the best job that we can. We should certainly be able to perform at a level to win races, it's just a matter of doing it. We've been fighting a couple gremlins, and once we eliminate them, we should be in good shape."
Notes on Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team entering the
Toyo Tires Nationals:
* WJ is a Top Runner in Reading: This will be Warren's 21st NHRA appearance at Maple Grove Raceway, where he has four wins in nine final round appearances, which is the most among Pro Stock drivers. In his 19 previous starts, WJ has complied a 43-15 elimination round record for a .741 win percentage.
* The Professor Starts Strong at the 'Grove: WJ has been the No. 1 qualifier six times in Pennsylvania, with only four starts outside the top three starting positions, and a 2.95 average starting position.
* No. 1 in National event wins: WJ's 95 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 2005 Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO.
* Career Best Elapsed Time: 6.679 seconds, Gainesville, FL, 3/20/05
* Career best top speed: 207.50 mph, Englishtown, NJ, 6/19/05