Richmond: Warren Johnson preview

WJ and Richmond Have History Together GM Performance Parts GTO crew looks to continue their forward progress at Torco Racing Fuel Nationals Sugar Hill, Ga., October 5, 2006 -- After a six-year absence, the POWERade Drag Racing Series...

WJ and Richmond Have History Together

GM Performance Parts GTO crew looks to continue their forward progress at Torco Racing Fuel Nationals

Sugar Hill, Ga., October 5, 2006 -- After a six-year absence, the POWERade Drag Racing Series returns to Richmond, VA this weekend for the Torco Racing Fuel Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park, and no one should be happier than Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team.

In the original era of NHRA competition at the Dinwiddie quarter-mile, which spanned from 1995-2000, "The Professor" was at his very best, logging four wins and four No. 1 qualifying performances, with an unparalleled 1.83 average starting position and a .889 round-win percentage. In addition, he made drag racing history at VMP when he recorded the first NHRA Pro Stock 200-mph top speed with his 200.13 mph pass on April 25, 1997.

"Everyone had been anticipating cracking the 200-mph barrier, and, after looking at the forecast for that weekend I had even predicted it would happen in Richmond," recalled Johnson. "We had run a lot of 198s and 199s leading up to the race, and looking at the atmospheric conditions, I pretty much knew that would be our best shot at getting it done for the year.

"As unusual as it may sound, there was nothing really remarkable about the actual run -- it was just a typical fast run down the track. In fact, it was so smooth, it was somewhat boring, but it got the job done, which is what we hope to do this weekend with our GM Performance Parts GTO."

However, as Johnson is quick to point out, past accomplishments will mean little this weekend, as another tight Pro Stock field is expected in the Old Dominion state, with every driver looking to make their own mark at Virginia Motorsports Park. In addition, the combination of cooler fall temperatures and a recently repaved racing surface will have the naturally-aspirated "factory hot rods" primed for a high-speed shootout, with no room for error. Although competing on four consecutive weekends has severely impacted the six-time champion's development work, he remains cautiously optimistic about his chances for the weekend, and looks forward to racing in front of what have traditionally been some of the most ravenous Pro Stock fans on the NHRA tour.

"With the compressed schedule, we won't have any time to do any development work, so we will do the best with what we have at our disposal," stated Johnson. "The reports coming back from the teams that had an opportunity to test in Richmond are that the track is absolutely dead smooth. Given that it has an eighth of a mile of concrete, if the weather conditions are at all similar to what we had in Reading, the record book is going to get hit again.

"Fortunately, I believe we made substantial gains with our GM Performance Parts GTO last weekend. We keep learning with every run we make with this particular chassis, and apply that knowledge as soon as we can. It's coming around nicely, and I anticipate we should be able to run with the pack and see what kind of damage we can do on Sunday.

"It will be good to be back in Richmond. The East Coast has traditionally had a rabid fan base for our category, and VMP was a Mecca for Pro Stock, simply because our performance level there was faster than any other track in the country. There are a few of us remaining that raced there previously, and we all remember how tremendous the crowds were when we ran. We're certainly looking forward to going back."

Quick Notes on Warren Johnson & the GM Performance Parts GTO team entering The Inaugural Torco Racing Fuels Nationals:

The Professor Leads the Class in Richmond: This will be Warren's seventh career NHRA national event at Virginia Motorsports Park. In his previous six starts, he has four wins (which is the most by a Pro Stock driver) in four final round appearances (including the first four races from 1995-1998), and a 16-2 elimination round record for a spectacular .889 win percentage.

WJ is a Strong Starter in Dinwiddie: In six Virginia Motorsports Park starts, WJ has four No. 1 qualifying performances and six starts in the top two positions for a stellar 1.33 average starting position.

Track Record Holder: Warren holds the top speed record at Virginia Motorsports Park at 202.24 mph, which he set in April of 1999.

-credit: j2r

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson