The Professor Targets the Top Eight in Reading GM Performance Parts GTO crew looks to secure their playoff berth at Maple Grove Sugar Hill, Ga., August 16, 2007 -- Warren Johnson has been coming to Maple Grove Raceway for the past 22...
The Professor Targets the Top Eight in Reading
GM Performance Parts GTO crew looks to secure their playoff berth at Maple Grove
Sugar Hill, Ga., August 16, 2007 -- Warren Johnson has been coming to Maple Grove Raceway for the past 22 years. In each of his previous visits, his primary focus has been on one thing -- winning the race. It is a goal he has achieved four times, more than any other Pro Stock competitor. However, as his GM Performance Parts GTO crew arrives in Reading, PA for this weekend's Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, The Professor will have a collateral assignment, as he will be looking to secure a spot in drag racing's version of the playoffs, the Countdown to Championship.
Under the format installed this season, the POWERade championship standings will be revised at the end of this event, with the top eight runners in each professional category separated from the other competitors and the points tightened, with the contenders within 80 points of each other. Sitting in the seventh position, Johnson will need to be on his game in order to guarantee his participation in the second stanza.
"Our objectives haven't really changed," said Johnson. "We enter every race to win, and this weekend is no different. Certainly, we want to ensure that we leave Reading in the Top Eight and therefore in the second phase of the Countdown. Barring any unforeseen catastrophes, we should be in good shape, but, if our GM Performance Parts GTO wins the race, the points will simply take care of themselves. I guess you could call that the perfect solution and it's our game plan for Reading."
Over the last four races, Johnson's Terry Adams-led crew has worked their race car into competitive form, with solid showings in both qualifying and eliminations. This progress is the result of the team's dedication and steady, organized development plan. However, an adjustment made prior to a run at the last event in Brainerd may hold the key to their championship aspirations.
"We made a change for the last qualifying session that we believe may have been what we were looking for almost the entire year," said Johnson. "It picked us up three and a half hundredths. It's a direction in which we've been trying to go for quite some time, but with our schedule and the heat wave that has engulfed most of the country, we just haven't been able to test it prior to last week.
"We're really comfortable with the gains we've made in the tune-up. Armed with this information, we can also address any chassis issues we've been having. The best part is that we can also use this information in Kurt's ACDelco Cobalt, hopefully picking up his program as well.
"Located as it is in the Northeast, we will have to see what kind of track we have at Maple Grove, and adjust accordingly. Fortunately, we have an extensive notebook from Reading over the years, which should prove helpful in deciding on a set-up for the first qualifying session on Friday. Basically, we'll have to take what the track will give us and do what we can to put this GM Performance Parts GTO back in the winner's circle."