Seattle Story

SEATTLE (August 2, 1998) A record four day crowd of over 80,000 watched Warren Johnson capture his second straight Pro Stock win in less than a week by defeating son Kurt Johnson in the final round of eliminations at the 11th annual Prolong ...

SEATTLE (August 2, 1998) A record four day crowd of over 80,000 watched Warren Johnson capture his second straight Pro Stock win in less than a week by defeating son Kurt Johnson in the final round of eliminations at the 11th annual Prolong Northwest Nationals at Seattle International Raceway.

It was Johnson’s sixth win of the year and expands his points lead over second place Jeg Coughlin to 294 points, or a little under 15 rounds with just eight races left in the season. His previous victories this year came at Phoenix, Gainesville, Houston, Richmond, and last weekend at Sonoma.

"I want this fourth championship as bad as I wanted the first one," said the 55-year-old three time Winston champion. "I’m just as hungry and determined to get this one as I was when I was battling for the first three. After all, this is the way I make my living. If they’re leaving any crumbs on the table, I’m going to take them.

"Both of us were looking into the sun on that last run. My Firebird was able to get down either lane. I set low elapsed time in the right lane which is the lane nobody wanted. But my car went right down through there.

That was the only advantage I had was at the tree so I gave it to him, and I guarantee, Kurt would have done the same to me if he had been holding lane choice."

On a weekend that produced outstanding racing conditions with sunny skies and cool temperatures, Johnson blasted to the No. 1 qualifying position setting a new track record in elapsed time at 6.884 seconds, and top speed at 200.53 mph. For the second consecutive week, Johnson leaves town with all the poker chips in his saddle bags snaring the win, the No. 1 qualifying spot, best elapsed time, and top speed of the meet.

Johnson defeated Scott Geoffrion in round one, Tom Martino in round two, and Jim Yates in round three before dispatching the younger Johnson in the final stanza. His performance numbers were 6.952ET/198.19MPH; 6.971ET/ 198.32MPH; and 6.968ET/198.54MPH. In the final, Warren ran a 6.967ET/198.45MPH lap to Kurt’s 6.990ET/198.06MPH. Reaction time was never a factor as Warren held onto a 19 foot margin of victory at the finish line.

It was the 69th career win for the Professor of Pro Stock moving him past John Force and into second place on the NHRA’s all-time list for career victories by a professional driver.

"I feel at this point in time, the Pontiac Firebird has a slight aerodynamic advantage over the Camaro," said Johnson. "The one distinct advantage I had in my corner is that I’ve been doing this for so long. I know all the dumb stunts because I’ve done a lot of them myself. When it comes to making a decision on how to adjust the car for the track or atmospheric conditions, I can draw back on a lot bigger pool of information quicker than almost any other driver out here."

Jim Yates rebounded from his DNQ a week ago in Sonoma by qualifying in the No. 5 spot and advancing to the semi-final round before losing to Warren Johnson. Bruce Allen and Tom Martino advanced to round two before losing; Allen to Kurt Johnson and Martino to Warren Johnson. Mike Thomas and Mark Pawuk lost in round one; Thomas to Mike Edwards and Pawuk to Darrell Alderman.

After 14 races on the 22-event NHRA Winston championship tour, Warren Johnson leads the title pursuit in a Firebird with 1216 points, Jeg Coughlin is second in an Oldsmobile with 922, Kurt Johnson is third in a Chevrolet with 876, Jim Yates is fourth in a Firebird with 826, and Mike Thomas is fifth in a Firebird with 676. Tom Martino is eighth in a Firebird with 545 points, and Mark Pawuk is ninth in a Firebird with 537.

In Funny Car, Al Hofmann had another strong showing today advancing all the way to the semi-final round before losing to John Force. Hofmann defeated Randy Anderson in round one and Chuck Beal in round two before losing to Force in round three.

"It was a pretty decent day for the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird considering we never got a handle on the track," explained Hofmann. "For once, we had some breaks go our way, but never made a solid run. We could only get part of the way down the lane, and it kept smoking the tires no matter what side we were on. This track was a handful this weekend and against Force, the lane just wouldn’t hold the tune-up."

Cruz Pedregon’s Firebird set best top speed of the event at 308.74 mph but lost to eventual race winner Ron Capps in round two. Del Worsham lost in round two to Tony Pedregon, Randy Anderson lost in round one to Hofmann, and Tim Wilkerson failed to qualify.

John Force jumps back into first place in the points standings with 999, Ron Capps moves to second in a Camaro after his win today with 988, Chuck Etchells is third in a Camaro with 937, Cruz Pedregon is fourth in a Firebird with 908, Tony Pedregon is fifth in a Mustang with 845, and Tim Wilkerson is sixth in a Firebird with 789. Al Hofmann is eighth in a Firebird with 645 points.

In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan went all the way to the final round before losing to Joe Amato. McClenathan’s 4.895ET/299.70MPH in the final wasn’t good enough to beat Amato’s 4.857ET/294.88MPH.

McClenathan was the No. 3 qualifier for the race and defeated Eddie Hill in round one, Bob Vandergriff in round two, and Bruce Sarver in round three before losing to Amato.

Shelly Anderson is still recovering from injuries suffered last weekend at the Autolite Nationals and did not race.

McClenathan still holds on to a very narrow lead in the points standings with 1063 points. Joe Amato is closing the gap on Cory Mac and is less than a round out of first with 1045. Gary Scelzi is third with 952, Kenny Bernstein is fourth with 879, and Mike Dunn is fifth with 795.

Bucky Austin of Fife, Wash., won his second consecutive Federal Mogul Funny Car national event when he drove his 1998 Pontiac Firebird past the Firebird of Steve Sommer in the final round. Austin had a 5.873ET/233.16MPH performance number to Sommer’s 5.927ET/241.02 MPH. Pat Austin’s Pontiac Firebird was the No. 1 qualifier of the meet setting low elapsed time at 5.717 seconds, and top speed at 251.04 mph.

In Stock Eliminator, Bill Heard of Vancouver, Wash., was the race winner in a 1996 Pontiac Firebird defeating Jimmy DeFrank of Tarzana, Calif.

The next stop on the 22-event Winston championship tour is the Visionaire North Star Nationals, August 20-23 at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn. Same day final round coverage of the Visionaire North Star Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, August 23, beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Mike Thomas , Jeg Coughlin , Mike Dunn , Darrell Alderman , Kenny Bernstein , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Chuck Etchells , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Scott Geoffrion , Cory Mac , Jimmy DeFrank , Bucky Austin , Bob Vandergriff , Mike Edwards , Shelly Anderson