WJ Sees Red in Seattle Second Round Starting from the seventh position in Sunday's final eliminations of the Schuck's Auto Supply Nationals in Seattle, WA, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team looked to maintain...
WJ Sees Red in Seattle Second Round
Starting from the seventh position in Sunday's final eliminations of the Schuck's Auto Supply Nationals in Seattle, WA, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Racing team looked to maintain the positive momentum generated by their semifinal finish from a week ago. Unfortunately, race day proved to be a test of everyone's patience, as rain delayed the start of on-track activities by over an hour, with additional showers putting racing on hold several times throughout the afternoon.
However, much as they had during Saturday's rain-shortened qualifying, the Johnson-led crew tried to make the most of any opportunity presented. In the first round against Richie Stevens, WJ was awarded the automatic win when his opponent left the starting line prematurely, with Johnson punctuating the win with the third quickest pass of the session at 6.675-seconds with a top speed of 206.39 mph.
Johnson's assignment grew even tougher in the second round, as he would square off against rival Allen Johnson without the benefit of lane choice, as his opponent had bettered his opening effort by four thousandths of a second. Knowing he would need every advantage in order to advance, the six-time champion pushed the starting light Christmas tree. In an ironic twist, this time it was WJ leaving early, missing a perfect reaction time by an immeasurable four thousandths of a second, putting an early end to his day despite his solid 6.680-second, 205.94 mph run.
Even so, Johnson's performance allowed him to gain two spots in the championship standings, moving among those who will qualify for the second stage of this year's Countdown to the Championship, which will occur in three races. This, combined, with his team's solid showing of late, left Johnson looking forward with a sense of quiet optimism.
"Our cars were only separated by a few thousandths in the first round, so I wanted to make sure and cut a good light against AJ. Unfortunately, I came up four thousandths short. Still, we're not totally displeased with our performance this weekend. With only one crack at qualifying, we started seventh, and our GM Performance Parts GTO was among the quickest cars in both rounds today. In fact, in the second round, we were only twelve thousandths off the quickest time.
"Most importantly, we got ourselves back in a position to be in the second stage of the Countdown, moving up to the seventh spot. Now, we have three races in which to not only solidify our position, but also see if we can move up the ladder even further. Our car is certainly coming around in the performance department, so we're in good shape there. Now it's just a matter of putting a muffler on the driver's alarm clock, making sure he doesn't wake up on the first count."