Richmond: Warren Johnson preview

WJ Looks to Complete His Turnaround in Richmond GM Performance Parts GXP crew works to build on solid showing in Memphis Sugar Hill, Ga., October 8, 2008 -- By his own admission, the 2008 POWERade Drag Racing season has been one of the most...

WJ Looks to Complete His Turnaround in Richmond
GM Performance Parts GXP crew works to build on solid showing in Memphis

Sugar Hill, Ga., October 8, 2008 -- By his own admission, the 2008 POWERade Drag Racing season has been one of the most trying of Warren Johnson's Hall of Fame career. Although his GM Performance Parts GXP has certainly had the horsepower, as evidenced by his setting top speed of the event in 13 of this year's 21 races, The Professor has yet to translate this performance into consistent success on race day.

Through it all, the Johnson-led crew remained focused on their target, working tirelessly to find a solution. Finally, their efforts have been rewarded in the last three races by signs of a return to form. For example, at the most recent race in Memphis their performance in the crucial first sixty feet, which had been a long-standing area of concern, was among the best in the category, helping them reach the semifinals for the first time in three months. Enthused by this solid showing the re-energized team comes into this weekend's Virginia NHRA Nationals in Richmond, VA determined to make a long-awaited return to the winner's circle.

"We've been working on a number of projects over the course of the season trying to improve our overall performance," said Johnson. "Unfortunately, the only true way to maximize those efforts was to test, which, due to inclement weather or a lack of suitable local facilities, we were simply unable to do properly. As a result, we would resort to using our qualifying attempts to try new components and set-ups, which can put you behind the eight-ball.

"But with a lot of hard work by everyone on my GM Performance Parts and Kurt's ACDelco crews, as well as some input from Frank Gugliotta from Justin's (Humphreys, who is leasing an engine from WJ) team, this GXP is finally starting to come around to where it's somewhat competitive. Having reached that point, we can now look at other areas to make sure no stone has been left unturned. We're a half-season too late, but there still are three races left to be won, and we look to be in the mix at all of them."

Getting a handle on his race car could not come at a better time for Johnson, as this weekend the straight-line set will make their annual visit to Virginia Motorsports Park. Throughout its two-tenure history on the NHRA national event tour, this multipurpose motorsports facility has shown the six-time champion both ends of the competitive spectrum, from being the first Pro Stock racer to post a 200-mph top speed, which he accomplished in 1997 and winning the first four races held there to being a non-participant in each of the straight-line circuit's last two visits. As with any other challenge, however, WJ will enter this year's race in the Old Dominion State determined to gain the upper hand.

"In the early years of competition at Virginia Motorsports Park, I was able to do pretty well there," stated Johnson. "In fact, I didn't lose a round there until the fifth year. Since then, a combination of the way the track has been prepared and other circumstances have resulted in performances we'd rather forget.

"However, this year we are going back with a GM Performance Parts GXP that is certainly more predictable than anything we've taken to Richmond in recent years. Based on our test in Memphis, I think we've come up with a package that has a bigger tuning window, which will allow us to go up there and be pretty competitive. I think we should be in great shape."

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson